4 tactics that can help Oklahoma drivers avoid large truck crashes

Drivers can reduce their risk of experiencing truck accidents by observing best practices regarding blind spots, passing, following and other maneuvers.

Last year, authorities in Oklahoma reported that large truck crashes were rising at an alarming and unusually fast rate. From July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, 896 accidents were reported near Edmond and other parts of Oklahoma County, according to KOCO News. Throughout the state, over 1,800 large truck crashes occurred during the same period, including 18 accidents that claimed people's lives.

Although the circumstances of these crashes can vary greatly, many accidents that involve both trucks and passenger vehicles may occur due to preventable missteps on the part of drivers. Given the growing threat that truck accidents pose, drivers in Oklahoma can benefit from understanding how to reduce their risk of experiencing one.

1. Avoid blind spots

Drivers should always avoid the blind spots of large trucks, which are much larger than the blind spots of other vehicles. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, a truck's side blind spots can extend out several lanes and back multiple car lengths. Since the blind spot on the right side of the truck is the largest, drivers should never pass trucks on that side. Drivers should also keep in mind that, unlike smaller vehicles, trucks have a front blind spot.

2. Respect stopping distances

Trucks require significantly more distance to stop than other vehicles. According to the Utah Department of Transportation, trucks may weigh up to 80,000 pounds, whereas passenger cars typically weigh between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds. An 80,000-pound truck traveling 65 miles per hour will require 525 feet to stop, while a 4,000-pound car traveling the same speed will only need 316 feet. To ensure that trucks have adequate stopping distance, passenger car drivers should always avoid cutting close in front of trucks.

3. Pass and follow safely

Passenger car drivers should also exercise caution when passing or following trucks, according to the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Drivers should not merge in front of a truck until they can see the entire front of the vehicle in their own rearview mirror. Drivers should also refrain from following closely behind trucks. This can impede a driver's view of approaching hazards and increase the risk of an under-ride accident.

4. Expect unusual maneuvers

Finally, drivers should be aware of some of the unusual maneuvers that semi trucks frequently make. According to the CDOT, these include:

  • Stopping at railroad crossings. Some trucks are legally required to stop and confirm that a crossing is clear before proceeding.
  • Swinging wide to the left before making right turns. Drivers should be careful not to misread a trucker's intentions and attempt to pass on the right side during these turns.
  • Backing into loading areas. A trucker may have poor visibility while backing up, so drivers should refrain from passing the truck until the maneuver is complete.

Drivers can avoid many of these accidents by keeping a reasonable distance away from trucks, especially when the actions of the trucker are difficult to anticipate.

Options when accidents occur

Unfortunately, these preventative measures might not always protect drivers from accidents in which truckers are at fault. In these cases, drivers who have suffered injuries may have legal recourse if they can prove the trucker's negligence caused the accident. Even if drivers contributed personally to the accident in a minor way, they may be able to recover compensation under Oklahoma law.

Drivers who have experienced one of these serious accidents may want to consider speaking with an attorney for further information. An attorney may be able to offer advice about establishing negligence and seeking an appropriate amount of compensation given the circumstances.