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What are the danger signs when you're on the road with a truck?

It isn't hard to understand why the drivers of passenger cars get nervous when they're sharing the road with a big rig. The size and weight of a commercial vehicle pretty much guarantee that any accident, if it happens, will be a bad one.

Learn more about some of the top problems that lead to many truck accidents and become more conscious of your role in highway safety.

1. Maintenance issues

It's easy to be amused when you see "Wash Me" written in the dirt on the side of a truck -- but there's a possibility that you should be worried instead. When there's an obvious lack of pride in a vehicle's appearance, there may also be a hidden maintenance issue. A filthy, dirty truck with a cracked windshield or signs of rust may be one that you want to stay a good distance away from on the road -- just in case the truck's brake pad or other critical equipment are also in a state of disrepair.

2. Driver mistakes

Driver mistakes can include things like distracted, drunk and drowsy driving. If you spot a driver who seems to be driving too fast, driving too slowly or weaving in traffic, you have good reason to be concerned. Get off the road, if necessary, to put some distance between you. Call the authorities after you're stopped to make a report and give them the license plate number if you can.

3. Bad weather

Whether high winds are blowing in the spring, rain is pouring in the summer or snow and ice are covering the road in winter, inclement weather can be a truck driver's worst nightmare. Drivers who are new to the job, in particular, may find the learning curve difficult to handle at the beginning of each season. Don't wait until you see a truck start to roll, jackknife or hydroplane out of control to take steps to protect yourself. Give yourself twice the amount of distance as usual between your vehicle and the truck.

Naturally, these aren't the only causes of catastrophic truck accidents -- but knowing the warning signs of these particular problems is one step toward better safety.

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