• Strong Law

Driving safely close to large trucks

Updated: Oct 27

Semi-tractor trailers are a familiar sight in Illinois, and many drivers become tense and nervous when they are in close proximity to them. These fears may be rooted in the knowledge that car and SUV drivers generally fare poorly in collisions with commercial vehicles, and data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveals that almost 70 percent of truck accident fatalities in 2014 were passenger vehicle occupants.

Motorists may be able to overcome their nervousness around tractor-trailers by learning more about the risks involved and following a few simple rules. Large trucks have much larger blind spots than cars and also require far more distance to stop safely. This means that passenger vehicle drivers should allow trucks plenty of space when passing and bear in mind that they will disappear into blind spots known as no-zones as they approach. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, about a third of all collisions involving trucks occur when passenger vehicles enter no-zones.

Drivers can also become frustrated and angry when traffic is being held up by slow-moving commercial vehicles, but giving in to impatience can quickly lead to recklessness and tragedy. Underride accidents are a real possibility when passenger vehicle drivers follow trucks too closely in congested traffic, and studies suggest that federally mandated safety equipment may not be enough to prevent catastrophic injuries. During a 2013 study, IIHS researchers found that underride bars provided little protection when the vehicles striking them overlapped the trailers they were fitted to by as little as 30 percent.

Experienced personal injury attorneys will likely know how serious the injuries suffered in big rig accidents can be. With this in mind, attorneys may take great care to ensure that they seek sufficient damages to cover the costs of a victim's long-term medical treatment and physical therapy when they prepare to pursue litigation against negligent truck drivers or logistics companies.

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