Winter in Louisiana is a time of rain, mud, and sometimes, like this winter, even ice and snow. One thing that doesn’t change is that cars and SUVs share the road with 18-wheelers. Commercial traffic doesn’t change during the winter months, and may even be greater than usual as holiday deliveries travel up and down the highways.
At Veron Bice, LLC, we know that any accident is serious, but being hit by a commercial vehicle can be worse because of the size and weight of the truck. Here are a few suggestions for avoiding accidents this winter, and keeping yourself and your loved ones safe on the roads.
Stay Out of the Blind Spots
Big rigs have huge blind spots at the sides and rear of the trailer, where the driver cannot see anything in their side mirrors. When passing a truck, you will be directly in the blind spot, and in a position of danger. The most cautious truck driver on the road will not be able to avoid what cannot be seen. Never cruise alongside a truck no matter what the weather.
Remember that if you can’t see the driver’s face in the side mirrors, the driver can’t see you. The driver also can’t see you when you are right next to the trailer, that part that would be comparable to the quarter panel of your car. Passing should only be done on the left side of the truck.
Keep a Safe Following Distance
Not only can the truck’s driver not see you, but the size and momentum of the trailer mean that once the truck begins moving the driver cannot swerve or stop easily. It is up to you, the driver of the smaller, more maneuverable vehicle, to give yourself room to get out of the truck’s way.
In wet, icy, or poor visibility conditions, you should give yourself even more space. If the truck or trailer begins to slide or jackknife ahead of you, a long following distance will give you plenty of time to slow down or stop. Many accidents in icy weather are multi-car pileups where a vehicle stopped or crashed, and then others behind it could not stop in time.
Avoid Distracted Driving
This is always true, but especially when the weather is bad or visibility is poor. In rain or sleet, or if the truck ahead is throwing up mud or water, you should only be paying attention to the road in front of you. Keep your eyes open for sudden swerves or signals from the truck, and be alert for brake lights.
Sometimes the trailer lights may not be working, or may not be visible due to dirt or road grime. Pay close attention to the truck as well as the trailer in front of you. Following behind a truck can sometimes be hypnotizing, so this is the wrong time to be texting or changing radio stations.
Be Cautious When Pulling Off or Pulling Over
In poor weather, the shoulder can be a dangerous place. Mud and rain can make it slippery, and snow can make it narrower than usual. In fog or heavy rain, a small car may be nearly impossible to see, even by other cars. If you have to get off the road, you should try to exit the highway completely rather than stay on the roadway. If you can’t, stay alert for big rigs, and take these extra steps:
- In dense fog, pull as far off the shoulder as you can. It is recommended you switch your lights off so that nobody thinks you are exiting and tries to follow you.
- Otherwise, turn on your hazard lights and make sure they are visible and unobstructed.
- Remain in your vehicle with your seatbelt fastened. Never stand outside by the car, and never stand between the car and the roadway.
A final tip is to remember that this isn’t a contest. Never get into a highway argument with a truck. Even if you technically have the right of way, let the truck go ahead of you. Never cut off a truck, swerve in front of it, or brake-check it. You can only lose that fight.
If You Are Hit by a Truck
Accidents still happen, especially in winter. If you are involved in an accident with a big rig that wasn’t your fault, you need an experienced Lake Charles truck accident attorney, like the ones at Veron Bice, LLC on your side. Give us a call at 337-310-1600 today if you or a loved one have been hit by a truck or commercial vehicle. We are standing by for a free consultation and evaluation of your case.