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Tips for avoiding crashes with tractor-trailers

Every day in Kentucky, passenger vehicles and large commercial trucks share the roads. The sheer size and weight of large trucks present significant dangers to smaller vehicles. However, drivers can apply strategies that will improve safety.

Drivers need to recognize that tractor-trailers require very long stopping distances. Big rigs can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. These trucks require about 550 feet to come to a stop when traveling at 55 mph. By comparison, a small passenger car only needs 178 feet to stop when moving at 70 mph. For this reason, people should not position themselves immediately in front of trucks. Space is also needed when merging. Drivers should accelerate ahead of an approaching truck to merge.

Maintaining a position next to a truck should be avoided as well. Many blind spots inhibit a trucker's ability to see other cars, and a crash could happen if the truck needs to change lanes and does not see the car on its left or right. Drivers should pass to the left because the trucker has a better ability to see traffic on the left. Tailgating places drivers in danger of underride accidents, which kill about 200 people annually. To limit this hazard, motorists should maintain safe following distances or pass when possible.

A person hurt in a wreck with a big rig might want the representation of an attorney when pursuing damages. An attorney familiar with truck accidents could compile evidence from a police crash report, trucking log or maintenance records to illustrate negligence. This effort could challenge attempts by an insurance company to avoid liability and limit a settlement. If necessary, an attorney could file a lawsuit and seek compensation for medical expenses and lost income in court.

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