Highway Safety and Driving Near Semi Trucks
Driving on Oklahoma’s highways and turnpikes is often the fastest way to get from one city to another. Whether you’re taking I-44 to Lawton, I-40 out to Eufala for the weekend, or heading north on I-35 toward Wichita, chances are your highway driving will include a few risks and challenges. Our team of expert car and truck accident attorneys has assembled a guide for safe highway driving.
Highway risks outside your control include traffic conditions, the weather, and other vehicles around you. One of the most common and potentially dangerous vehicles you’re sure to encounter on Oklahoma highways is the semi truck (also called a big rig or 18-wheeler). Large trucks, like semis and other oversized trucks, were involved in over 1,800 injury accidents in Oklahoma in 2021.
Because of large trucks’ size, weight, and speed, it’s essential to show extra caution when driving near semis to avoid accidents with large trucks. In this article, we will share some tips about driving safely on Oklahoma highways and how to avoid common hazards when driving near semi trucks.
Tips for Driving Safely on the Highway
Drive Rested and Alert
Drowsy driving is a recipe for disaster. You should avoid driving when you are tired, fatigued, or distracted. If you are sleepy or need a break, exit and find a safe place to rest. It’s not worth the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel.
Buckle Up and Don’t Drive Impaired
Just as your driving school instructor taught you, our attorneys will tell you the same–buckle up every time you drive. You are at more risk of injury or death if you do not wear a seatbelt when you drive. Additionally, if you drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the impairment can lead to a crash and severe consequences.
Show Caution in Work Zones
If you’ve driven on the Turner Turnpike from OKC to Tulsa throughout your life, you know there’s always construction. It’s easy to zone out and miss the signs for an upcoming work zone. Pay attention as you drive, follow the directions provided by signs and traffic controllers’ cues, and be prepared for sudden changes in traffic or lane closures.
Don’t Drive Distracted
When you are driving, avoid distractions. Commit to not using your cell phone while driving, avoid passing items to passengers, adjusting the radio, and eating messy foods while driving. In fact, texting and driving is illegal in Oklahoma. Always keep your eyes on the road and actively look for hazards on the roadway.
Observe the Speed Limit
Driving too fast or too slow can increase your chance of being in an accident in Oklahoma. Follow the posted speed limit and adjust your speed to accommodate for poor weather or traffic conditions if needed.
Follow at a Safe Distance
Speeding up and slowing down behind cars on the highway can result in accidents. Tailgating, or traveling too close to the vehicle in front of you, can put you in danger. If the car you’re driving behind abruptly stops or changes lanes due to an obstacle in the road, following too closely can result in an accident for you. A good rule of thumb is to allow about 5 to 7 car lengths behind the vehicle you’re following.
Plan to Stop, Fuel, and Rest
Before you plan your journey to Oklahoma City, Guymon, or Beavers Bend, plan where and when you will fuel and stretch your legs. Make a note of the exits you’ll need to take, and choose your restaurants in advance. When you have a plan and estimated arrival time, you’ll be less likely to drive distracted or make a costly mistake.
Tips for Driving Near Semi Trucks
Because of the dangers of driving near large trucks, you must take special precautions when driving near a semi. Our team of experienced Oklahoma lawyers works with the victims of trucking accidents every day. Being prepared and driving cautiously when on the highway can help keep you out of harm’s way. 18-wheelers make many drivers nervous, especially if you’re on a narrow road. Here are some tips to help you drive safely.
Use Your Signals
When driving near a large truck, let them know what you intend to do by using your signals. If you plan to exit, change lanes, or pull over, signal with plenty of time so the truck driver can react and adjust accordingly. Before you make a lane change when driving near a semi, be aware that it is often difficult to see around large vehicles and trucks. Your view may be obscured, so be mindful of these limitations.
Avoid Trucks’ Blind Spots
Semi trucks have four blind spots: directly behind, directly in front, and on each side of the truck. If you are driving beside a semi and cannot see the driver’s face in the side mirror, they cannot see you either. If you are going to enter a blind spot to pass a semi truck, do it quickly and decisively. Lingering in the blind spot of a large truck is dangerous. If you drive too closely behind and they stop abruptly, there could be a catastrophic collision. If you’re hanging out in their side blind spots, they may change lanes into your vehicle.
When passing a large truck, make an effort to pass them safely. Make sure you have enough room to pass them without causing them to slow down or swerve. Always pass on the left, never on the right. Passing on the left gives the truck driver a better view of you and your vehicle’s signals as you pass and reenter the lane.
Give Trucks Space
Never cut in front of a semi truck or follow too closely behind. Because of their weight and speed, large trucks require more distance to stop than passenger cars. If you cut off or tailgate a semi truck, you could cause a rear-end collision or be hit by unsecured debris or a piece of tire from the truck.
Find a Trusted Oklahoma Car Accident Attorney
If you are involved in an injury accident with a semi or large truck, and the truck driver was at fault, you should contact our firm quickly for a free consultation, so we can help you evaluate your case. Connecting with the Car Accident Help team can help secure the best outcome for you while you focus on healing.
For the past few decades, the Car Accident Help team has guided and counseled Oklahomans who have been the victims of personal injury or death due to a car accident. Contact our proven team today for a free consultation with an expert Oklahoma car accident attorney.
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