Three ways for motorists to avoid truck accidents

It is an undisputed fact that truck accidents are a major cause for concern in Ohio. In 2014 alone, 22,849 large trucks were involved in collisions, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety. Of these truck accidents, 4,943 involved an injury to another person and 146 caused a fatality.

Since large trucks can outweigh passenger vehicles by up to 30 times, it is the occupants in the smaller vehicle that suffer the most. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes that during 2013, when large trucks were involved in fatal accidents, 97 percent of the time it was other road users, not the truck's occupants, that were killed. Because truck accidents cause disproportionate harm to others, it is essential for motorists to know how to reduce their risk of being involved in an accident with one.

Allow the proper distance

When following large trucks, experts recommend for motorists to allow at least a two-second interval between their car and the truck ahead. Drivers that follow too closely run the risk of being unable to see upcoming road conditions, hazards, as well as oncoming traffic. In addition, these drivers are more likely to be involved in a rear-end collision with the truck.

Since trucks require up to twice the stopping distance as normal passenger vehicles under normal driving conditions, safety experts advise motorists to exercise particular care when changing lanes to pass a truck. Drivers should not pull in front of a truck until they can see the entire truck in their rearview mirrors. Ideally, this should be about four car lengths ahead of the truck. Doing this will allow the truck plenty of space to stop if traffic conditions warrant it and will avoid a possibly deadly rear-end collision.

Be familiar with how a truck moves

Due to their size, large trucks maneuver in different ways than smaller passenger vehicles. Drivers should be prepared to leave extra space during these maneuvers:

•• Right turns-trucks must often veer to the left before turning right in order to avoid hitting the curb. Drivers should refrain from attempting to pass a truck on the right in intersections, as they may be in the process of turning.

•• Railway crossings-many trucks have to stop completely at railway crossings by law before they may proceed. Drivers should anticipate this stop when following a truck across railroad tracks.

•• Backing-trucks may have to back up to get to loading areas when they arrive at their destinations. Drivers should stay clear of the truck during this time, as the truck driver's visibility may be limited.

In general, many accidents may be avoided if drivers leave extra space for trucks, avoid staying close to them, and refrain from trying to predict their movements.

Stay out of blind spots

Since trucks are much larger than passenger vehicles, they have larger blind spots on the front, rear and sides of the vehicle. Drivers can stay out of the front and back blind spots by giving the truck a reasonable distance discussed earlier.

A good rule of thumb to stay out of the side blind zones is to check the truck's rearview mirror. If the face of the truck driver is not visible in the mirror, the vehicle is in a blind spot. Additionally, the blind zone on the truck's passenger side is larger than the driver side, so it is best for vehicles to stay outside of this area whenever possible.

If involved in an accident, get legal help

Unfortunately, simply following these safety measures to the letter is no guarantee of absolute protection against truck accidents. This is especially the case if the truck driver engages in negligent (e.g. texting or speeding) or illegal (e.g. overloading the truck or driving drunk) behaviors. However, drivers that are injured in such cases may have a right to recover compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering and other losses under Ohio law. An experienced truck accident attorney can review your situation and advise you further on your rights.