TIPS TO HELP NEW YORKERS SHARE THE ROAD SAFELY WITH BIG RIGS

New York drivers may reduce their risk of truck accidents by knowing how to pass and follow trucks, recognize blind spots and avoid intersection collisions.

Large truck accidents affect thousands of drivers in Forest Hills and other areas in New York each year. According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, in 2014 alone, 11,848 large truck crashes occurred throughout the state. In 3,760 of these crashes, people suffered injuries. Tragically, lives were lost in another 74 of these accidents.

Sadly, many of the large truck crashes that occur each year may involve preventable mistakes on the part of truckers and other drivers. When truck drivers make errors or act recklessly, passenger vehicle drivers may be powerless to avoid the ensuing accidents. However, these drivers can benefit from understanding the best practices that may help them reduce their risk of experiencing truck accidents in other situations.

Know the 'no zones'

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles explains that big rigs have significantly larger blind spots than other vehicles. Drivers should be aware of these areas, or "no zones," and avoid them as much as possible. The front and rear no zones extend at least two car lengths away from the truck. On the truck's left side, the no zone reaches from behind the truck driver's seat to the first half of the trailer. On the right, the no zone covers essentially the entire length of the truck.

The easiest way for a driver to identify a no zone is by checking whether the trucker's face is visible in the vehicle's rearview mirror. If not, the driver is likely in a spot that the truck driver cannot see.

Pass and follow safely

Drivers should keep all four no zones in mind when following and passing large trucks. The Florida DHSMV and the Connecticut Department of Transportation offer the following advice on safely maneuvering near trucks:

  • Drivers should always avoid passing on the right side of a big rig, since the largest blind spot lies on that side. When passing on the left, drivers should complete the maneuver as quickly as they safely can.
  • Drivers should avoid following too closely behind trucks. Besides impeding visibility of any traffic, road hazards or motor vehicle accidents that lie ahead, this can raise the risk of under-ride collisions.
  • Before merging in front of a truck, drivers should confirm that they can see the entire truck in the rearview mirror. This ensures that drivers avoid the front no zone.

When merging in front of trucks, drivers should also remember that heavier vehicles require more distance to stop, so truckers must leave a larger space behind vehicles that they are following. Drivers should appreciate this necessity when moving into the space in front of a truck.

Beware of intersection crashes

Finally, drivers should exercise caution when moving through intersections at the same time as big rigs. The CDOT explains that trucks often must swing wide to one side to complete a turn in the opposite direction. Drivers who misunderstand a truck's intended path and try to pass on the wrong side may experience collisions. Drivers should also make sure to stop behind painted white lines in intersections to ensure that turning trucks have adequate room to maneuver.

Be prepared for an accident

Finally, drivers in New York should be prepared for the possibility of an accident and understand what to do afterward. In addition to seeking medical attention and reporting the accident to local authorities, drivers may want to evaluate whether carelessness on the part of the truck driver contributed to the incident. If so, drivers who suffered injuries may benefit from meeting with an attorney to discuss the possibility of pursuing compensation.