Tuesday, December 26, 2017

#KDOTTUESDAYS: Sharing the road with Semi-Trucks

With more  than 2 million semis on the road every day, it is easy for other drivers to take the semi and the driver for granted.  However, by understanding the challenges that semis and their drivers face, others on the road can drive more defensively and possibly avoid a serious collision.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are nearly 450,000 collisions, approximately 140,000 people are seriously injured and at least 5,000 motorists die as a result of a crash involving a semi or large truck in the U.S. each year.

Because a commercial semi can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds and most passenger vehicles weigh 3,000 pounds or less, collisions involving commercial trucks are often the most damaging and dangerous on the roads.  Many drivers believe that because the truck is bigger, the truck is at fault.  However, statistics show that 72 percent of crashes involving semis are the fault of the other vehicle. 

Drivers can minimize the risk of a collision involving a semi by better understanding these vehicles, the challenges semi drivers face and by driving defensively.

Semis have blind spots just like passenger vehicles, but because semis are taller and longer, they have twice as many blind spots. To limit the possibility of a crash, drivers should avoid the blind spot or “no zones,” when sharing the road with semis.

The passenger side of a semi has a much larger blind spot than the driver side. As a result, drivers should pass on the left side of the semi whenever possible and not drive in the blind spot on either side unless passing.  In addition, drivers should allow extra room before cutting back in after passing, to avoid the front blind spot.

Because semis are much larger and heavier than a passenger vehicle it is much more difficult to maneuver, especially in tight situations where quick movements or lane changes are necessary. Their size also makes it impossible to come to a sudden stop. It can take a semi traveling 60 miles per hour almost the length of three football fields to come to a complete stop.  Passenger vehicles should always give the semi plenty of room and respect the semi’s space.

Finally, many trucking companies require speed limiters which limit the top speed at which the semi can travel.  This means the semi may not be able to maintain the same pace as the surrounding traffic.  Drivers should be patient and move around the semi when it is safe to do so.

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