Trying to navigate icy, snow-covered roads during a Minnesota winter is hard enough. When you have to deal with huge semi-trucks on the highway, it can get downright scary. Truck accidents occur far too often, regardless of the time of year it may be. But when winter hits, the risks get even more pronounced. Truck accidents can leave victims with debilitating injuries, with effects that can last a lifetime.
The attorneys with Sand Law would like to offer some tips on how to stay as safe as possible when sharing the road with big rigs this winter. We hope you never suffer an accident involving a truck, but if you ever do, we’ll be here for you. Just give us a call at 651-291-7263 or use our online form for a free review of your case.
1. Watch for Blind Spots
As fantastic as modern technology is at alerting motorists to other vehicles approaching their blind spots, they’re not foolproof when it comes to truck drivers. No matter how well they may be equipped with advances such as collision warning systems and cameras, truckers still don’t have a complete understanding of their surroundings when behind the wheel.
There are certain spots that are particularly dangerous, such as areas directly in front of or behind a truck, or on each side of the rig. A good rule of thumb is to assume that if you can’t see the mirrors of the truck, then the driver can’t see you – no matter how much technology the truck may have.
Even if you’re in a traffic jam, don’t spend a lot of time in any of these spots – get your vehicle out of them as quickly and safely as you can.
2. Avoid Cutting them Off
Winter is a particularly dangerous time for truck accidents, so you need to pay even more attention when you’re on the road. Never cut off a truck when trying to pass. Large trucks will often travel slower than passenger cars for safety reasons. It’s only natural to want to pass them as soon as you can so you can get to your destination.
But that doesn’t mean you can ever recklessly attempt this maneuver. Not only do truck drivers have a harder time seeing passenger cars, trucks need much more space to slow down and eventually stop. In fact, it takes trucks about 40 percent more time to stop than it does the typical passenger vehicle. When you cut in front of a truck, you’re putting yourself, as well as the truck driver, in a great deal of danger.
3. Yield to Semi-Trucks Attempting to Change Lanes
Just about everybody is busy these days – that’s just a fact. But being in a hurry can be deadly. You might want to do everything you can to avoid being stuck behind a rig, but if that truck tries to change lanes while you’re trying to make a pass, the results could be devastating.
Never try to pass a truck while it’s changing lanes. When you do pass, always try to do it on the side of the driver, because that’s where you’ll be the most visible. Use your turn signals well before you pass. That will give the driver time to realize your intentions and react accordingly.
4. Avoid Driving Near the Axles
This is probably a tip you’ve never considered in the past. While all truck accidents are dangerous, ones that occur due to a blown tire can be especially catastrophic. If you happen to be driving near the truck’s axles and a blowout occurs, that could lead to a terrible wreck.
The reason you want to stay away from the axles is that this is where the wheels sit. Even if the truck stays on the road, the impact from the tire itself can do a great deal of damage because truck tires are much heavier and larger than passenger car tires.
5. Be Careful of Windy Roads and Hills
When you drive on Minnesota highways during winter, you’re going to encounter some stiff winds from time to time. Combine wind, trucks and icy road surfaces, and that’s a recipe for disaster. Wind only increases the risk for an accident, because trucks sit so much higher off the road. That makes them more prone to rolling over.
6. Increase Your Following Distance
Keeping your distance is even more important when you’re on the road with a truck during wintertime. The closer you are, the harder it will be for you to avoid a collision should the truck suddenly swerve or come to a stop. Make sure you have plenty of room to make any evasive moves that might be necessary. Try to keep at least four seconds worth of distance between you and the truck if possible.
7. Beware of the Increase in Semi-Trucks this Time of Year
Winter is the time for holiday gatherings with friends and family members. Truck drivers are people too. And they will oftentimes have a little too much to drink before they hit the road.
Not only that, but truck drivers often drive very fatigued because they’re trying to hit unreasonable deadlines. They want to earn those big holiday bonuses, and they also want to be home with their families. As a result, they will often be behind the wheel when they shouldn’t be.
This means that you need to be on alert whenever you encounter a big truck while driving. Be especially aware of any kind of swaying, or other signs that the driver is behaving in an erratic fashion. If you see any of those signs, do whatever you can to stay as far away as possible – even if it means taking an exit you wouldn’t normally take.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney if You’re Involved in an Accident
If you or a loved one ever suffers an injury in an accident caused by a truck driver, Sand Law will provide the passionate, aggressive legal representation you need. We know how to build effective personal injury cases, and we’ll be ready to put that knowledge to work for you. Contact us online or call 651-291-7263 for a free consultation.