Tips for safely sharing the road with large trucks in Connecticut

Drivers can lower their risk of experiencing truck crashes by knowing how to merge and follow safely, avoid blind spots and anticipate truckers’ actions.

Many drivers in Hartford aim to be cautious and respectful when driving near large trucks. Still, it's not unusual for motorists to make unwitting errors or miscalculations when sharing the road with these vehicles. As the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes, trucks differ markedly from other vehicles in their braking capability, weight, clearance and many other factors. Misunderstandings about these vehicular differences can put drivers at risk for serious large truck accidents.

Unfortunately, crashes involving large trucks often have the worst consequences for other motorists. Per the IIHS, in all of the deadly multi-vehicle large truck accidents that occurred in 2014, 97 percent of the fatality victims were passenger vehicle occupants. This makes it essential for these drivers to understand how to reduce their risk of experiencing large truck crashes.

Anticipate unusual maneuvers

To avoid accidents in intersections and on smaller roads, drivers should be aware of some of the unusual maneuvers that truck drivers may make. According to the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles, these include:

  • Swinging wide to the left before making a right-hand turn to avoid running over curbs. Drivers should not attempt to pass trucks on the right-hand side in intersections.
  • Backing from streets into loading areas. Since this can be a low-visibility maneuver, drivers should not try to pass trucks that are backing.
  • Stopping at train tracks even if no train is present. Some commercial vehicles are legally required to stop and check for train traffic before proceeding.

In general, drivers can benefit from allowing trucks extra space and avoiding passing when a trucker's intentions are unclear.

Be aware of blind spots

Large trucks have significantly larger blind spots than passenger vehicles, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Front and rear blind spots lie directly ahead of and behind the truck, while the side blind spots extend several car lengths. Drivers should be especially aware of the passenger side blind spot, which can reach across several traffic lanes for the full length of the trailer.

Merge and follow safely

When passing and merging with trucks, drivers should steer clear of blind spots. Drivers should never pass on the right-hand side, and on the left-hand side, drivers should not linger near the rear of the truck cab. When merging, drivers should remember that overloaded or overweight trucks need a large amount of stopping distance. To allow adequate space, drivers should not move in front of a truck until they can see the entire vehicle in their mirrors, according to the CDMV.

Motorists should also employ caution when following large trucks. Tailgating a large truck increases the risk of under-ride accidents and may prevent a driver from seeing approaching hazards. These include road conditions, such as debris, potholes and bumps, as well as traffic conditions, such as slowed or stopped vehicles ahead.

When accidents can't be avoided

These measures can help drivers reduce their risk of truck accidents, but sadly, they may not be able to prevent accidents in which truckers are at fault. In these cases, drivers who have suffered injuries may benefit from consulting with an attorney about their legal options. A truck crash attorney may be able to help a victim document the trucker's role in the accident and seek reasonable recourse.