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Sharing the Road Safely with Tractor-Trailers

Yes, it is understandable that your heart does not beat with glee when you encounter a tractor-trailer on the road. They are large, noisy, and scary and not disappearing from our highways anytime soon. Almost 82 percent of communities in the U.S. depend on truckers to deliver everything from gasoline to toilet paper. Furthermore, 84 percent of the goods carried between the U.S. and Mexico, and 73 percent of those carried between the U.S. and Canada, get there on trucks.

"A necessary evil." "The backbone of our transportation system." Call them what you want, but the big rigs are here to stay. So how do automobiles share the road with them? Apparently not very well, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. According to their research, the car initiates approximately 75 percent of all truck-related car fatalities. Americans simply do not know how to protect themselves when encountering tractor-trailers on the highway.

The best thing you can do to keep from getting entangled with one of these monsters of the highway is to know and understand a tractor-trailer's blind spots. All motorists know of their personal vehicle's blind spot, and most prudently check it before changing lanes. Cars are small enough so that you can do this by either adjusting your side-view mirrors or turning your head and looking. The blind spots on a tractor-trailer are so large, a truck driver may not be able to see into them. If you are traveling in one of these blind spots, there is a good chance that the truck driver does not even know you are there. If you are sitting there when he or she decides to change lanes, you are in trouble.

Where are these blinds spots? They exist on the side of tractor-trailers, similar to where a car's blind spot is. They are much larger. The rule is if you cannot see the truck cab's side-view mirrors, he or she cannot see you. Stay out of these if at all possible. If not, get through them as quickly and safely as you can.

Another blind spot exists directly behind the trailer and can extend for up to 300 feet. Finally, truck drivers cannot see the 15 to 20 feet directly in front of their cab because they cannot see over their engine. If you are in this area and jam on your brakes, you are likely to get rear-ended.

Staying out of a tractor-trailer's blind spots will greatly diminish the chances that you will be adversely involved with any tractor-trailers on the highway. For more information about this topic, also see the article on safely sharing the road.