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What you can do to increase safety around big rigs

As you approach an 18-wheeler on a highway, you may hang back a bit while the vehicle ahead of you passes it. Only when you can shoot past the mammoth vehicle do you proceed.

If this sounds familiar, you understand that these large, heavy vehicles can cause an enormous amount of damage to you and your passengers should something go wrong. You want to get to your destination safely, and you have a healthy fear of semi-trailers. 

How can you improve your chances?

You can take certain steps to increase your safety around big rigs. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which oversees the trucking industry, provides the following tips to people like you who travel in passenger vehicles along California's roadways:

  • As you can imagine, big rigs have several large blind spots, and the best way to remain visible to the truck's driver is to make sure you can see the driver in his or her side mirror. If you can't see the driver, the driver probably can't see you.
  • Avoid pulling in front of a truck too closely. Even if the driver sees you, big rigs don't stop on a dime, and the driver may not be able to avoid a collision.
  • Make sure that you can see the truck in your rearview mirror before changing lanes in front of it.
  • Don't pass a truck going down a hill because the other vehicle could pick up a significant amount of speed.
  • Don't pass on the right since trucks tend to move into the right lane in order to let faster vehicles pass, and the driver may not see you.
  • Make sure you don't follow a truck too closely, especially up a hill when the truck could roll backward if stopped.

Driving distracted, impaired or fatigued increases your chances of getting into an accident. You will need to remain vigilant and pay attention in order to improve your safety while on the road -- trucks or no trucks.

When you do everything right, but it doesn't matter

Even if you follow all of the rules, doing so does not guarantee that you will be able to avoid a truck accident. Sadly, not everyone chooses to follow the rules and make the safety of others a priority. Depending on the circumstances of a collision with a truck, the force of such an impact could cause serious injuries that require a lengthy recovery period.

During that time, you will undoubtedly accumulate significant medical expenses, lose income and sustain other damages. You may find it appropriate to file a personal injury claim against the truck driver and anyone else who may bear some legal liability in connection with the crash

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