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What Are Safety Tips When Driving Near Tractor-Trailers?
Driving in the vicinity of a tractor-trailer can be intimidating – downright scary – especially when they are loaded up with cargo. These are massive vehicles and their total weight, especially with a full load, can result in catastrophic injuries and death in trucking accidents. Every driver should be aware of the following important safety tips and understand the limitations that commercial trucks and the drivers who operate them have. If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident, contact our office to speak with a North Carolina truck accident attorney.
Factors to Remember
When you are driving near a large tractor-trailer or other commercial truck, the following factors are crucial to remember in order to stay safe:
- Watch out and avoid the truck’s blind spots: The length and height of a large truck often create blind spots for the truck driver in different areas of the vehicle. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), vehicle drivers should remember that if they can’t see the truck driver in the truck’s side mirror, then assume that the truck driver cannot see your vehicle. Always try to remain visible to the truck driver and never stay in a blind spot when you are attempting to pass the truck.
- Be ready for wide turns: Commercial trucks are massive vehicles, and this makes them much more difficult to operate than passenger vehicles. This is also quite evident when a truck driver is attempting to make a turn with the vehicle. Because of their size, trucks often make wide turns and another vehicle should never attempt to get between the truck and the curb to try to pass. A vehicle driver should also never attempt to cross intersection lines when a truck is turning because the truck driver often uses those lines to help navigate the turn.
- Give the truck extra room: While it is important to make sure you are visible to a truck driver, it is also important to give that vehicle the extra room it needs. Trucks take longer to stop than other vehicles, so make sure to allow enough space between your vehicle and the truck. Never tailgate a truck. If the driver should come to a sudden stop, a vehicle tailgating could end up under the truck and the results fatal. It also takes trucks longer to complete a lane change so make sure you give the truck driver the space they need.
Contact a Carolinas Injury Attorney for Assistance
Because of their size and weight, the injuries sustained from a tractor-trailer accident are often much more severe than accidents that happen with smaller vehicles. Not only truck accidents more catastrophic than car accidents, the process for pursuing damages is also more complex. Unlike car accidents, where there is usually only one other at-fault party – the driver – truck accidents often involve multiple parties that can be liable. When a truck driver causes a crash, the trucking company the driver works for is legally responsible for that driver’s actions.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, you are no doubt facing exorbitant medical bills, loss of income, and multiple other losses. A North Carolina truck accident attorney can evaluate your case and determine how much financial compensation you may be entitled to for your injuries.
The legal team at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn has been successfully advocating for accident victims for more than three decades and will use all available resources to get you the compensation you deserve.
My vehicle was struck by a tractor trailer and it was his fault, and I got the police form that shows the driver's name. Whose insurance applies, the driver's or the company he works for?
Both insurances apply, that is if the driver has his own policy covering his commercial activities, that policy applies coverage. If he is working for a trucking company as their driver, moving their load, then the trucking company's insurance will apply under federal regulations governing interstate trucking business. Sometimes, the insurance covering the trailer, even if the trailer was not struck, can also provide additional insurance.
Do commercial trucks like 18-wheelers and tractor-trailershave a right-of-way superior to that of a car when travelling on NCpublic roads?
No. Commercial trucks and tractor trailers must obey the same, and sometimes more extensive traffic laws than an average passenger vehicle. All too often, some truck drivers take the "I'm bigger, so you must move out of my way" approach to driving, but you have an equal right to travel on the same roads that they do. Of course you should always be mindful of your safety when encountering large commercial vehicles like big rigs and tractor-trailers on the road.
A rock fell off of a dump truck and caused me to crash my truck, do I have a personalinjury case?
If you suffered a serious injury due to the negligence of a truck driver, yes, you may have a potential case. Truck drivers and operators are responsible for securing their loads, and if they are negligent in doing so, then you have rights as an injured person. If you are hit while behind a truck that is carrying a load that appears to be unsafe and can't move over to another lane, make sure you remember enough information about the truck or the company so that you can identify the responsible party in case of an accident.
How much time does it take to resolve a truck accident case? Do most cases settle or go to trial?
The amount of time required to resolve your truck accident case depends primarily on the circumstances of your specific case. Some truck wreck cases take a few months to resolve, while others take a year or longer.
Due to the extensive amount of damages involved in a typical truck crash case, the truck company insurers are more likely to authorize a time-consuming, all-out vigorous defense. This usually means truck accident cases take longer to resolve than typical car accident cases.
Are the rules of the road different for drivers of large commercial trucks than for cars?
Yes, the drivers and operators of tractor trailers and other commercial vehicles are required to not only obey the regular rules of the road that apply to all motor vehicles but also certain special federal regulations that apply to trucking. These rules, found in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (49 CFR §§350 through 399), set forth these special laws that govern any semi's and large passenger vehicles used in interstate traffic. Most states, including North Carolina, incorporate by reference most of the federal regulations that apply to 18-wheelers and other big trucks. Some of these rules involve special qualifications for CDL drivers, hours of service for drivers, and the inspection and repair of trucks. There are also special rules about drug testing and other information which must be gathered when there is a serious injury or death involving one of these big rigs.
Is the law applying to a car and truck wreck case different from a car injury case and how?
There are many parts that are the same, but evidence law applying to interstate trucking is vastly more complicated. For example, federal motor carrier safety laws apply to trucking. There are many insurance regulations governing trucking. The law of statutes of limitations usually, not always, is governed by state laws. Please review our practice area (trucking injury) for extensive discussions of car/truck accidents/collisions. Our firm has handled major injury cases involving trucks and tractor trailer crashes, for example review our case result section on this website.
About the editors: The motto at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburnlaw firm is simple -"All we do is injury law." We hope you were able to find the answer to your injury query. If not, please review our North and South Carolina Accident Attorney FAQ library for additional information. If you'd like to speak to an actual attorney about your potential injury claim for free, please contact our office at 1-800-752-0042.