The dos and don’ts of sharing the road with large trucks in Illinois

Trucking accidents may have devastating effects for the occupants of smaller vehicles that are involved, but there are things drivers can do to avoid such crashes.

Serious collisions occur every day on the roads throughout Illinois, some of which involve large tractor trailers. In fact, the Illinois Department of Transportation reports there were more than 10,000 accidents involving commercial trucks in 2013 alone. Due to the significant size difference between 18-wheelers and smaller passenger vehicles, the occupants of passenger vehicles often suffer serious injuries or death in such crashes. Although not all trucking collisions are avoidable, there are some things drivers can do to improve their safety.

Do allow large trucks more space

Tractor trailers require more room to stop than smaller cars, trucks and SUVs. Therefore, it is advisable that drivers allow these vehicles a wider berth than they give other automobiles. Additionally, people should refrain from cutting in front of large commercial vehicles. Should a driver have to stop or slow suddenly after cutting in front of these trucks, the operators may not be able to stop their vehicles in time to avoid crashing.

Don't attempt to squeeze past trucks

Due to their size and the way they must be maneuvered, it may seem like an 18-wheeler is turning left when they are actually turning right. This is because truckers must swing their vehicles wide to the left in order to safely turn right. The Illinois Department of Transportation suggests motorists refrain from attempting to squeeze between the shoulder or curb and a truck that is preparing to turn. This may help avoid some sideswipe, crushing or T-bone accidents.

Do stay out of the blind spots

Like smaller vehicles, tractor trailers have blind spots. However, these areas are much larger on commercial vehicles. The blind spots on 18-wheelers extend on the left and right sides, as well as in the front and in the rear.

When drivers are in these areas, the truckers generally cannot see them. Therefore, they may not be able to take action to avoid emergency situations that arise on the road. In order to avoid some accidents involving large trucks, it is recommended that drivers avoid driving in large trucks' blind spots for extended periods of time.

Don't get distracted

Distractions including cell phones, passengers and the radio always pose some risk to drivers. Distracted driving is especially dangerous, however, when people are driving near tractor trailers. Thus, it is important for people to stay focused on the task of driving, the road and the vehicles around them when they are behind the wheel. This may help ensure they have time to respond to changes in traveling conditions, road hazards or other situations that may occur while driving.

Consult with an attorney

When people in Illinois, and elsewhere, are injured in trucking accidents, the effects may be devastating. As a result of missing work to recover, they may find themselves struggling to pay for their medical bills and keep up with their everyday expenses. When such collisions are the result of a trucker or trucking company's negligence, however, they may be held liable for the damages. Therefore, it may benefit those who have suffered injuries in truck-related wrecks to discuss their options with an attorney.