As fall fades to winter, we have more than a few new things to worry about. Pennsylvania will be faced with a harsh winter soon enough, and now is as good of a time as ever to brush up on driving safety. Even though more accidents occur during the day, also consider that it gets darker earlier in winter, making your commute home all the more dangerous. Drivers may forget to turn their lights on, or they may have blinding lights that make it difficult to see in your mirrors. Speed, size, and weight are other factors to consider while driving in dark or adverse conditions. One situation we often overlook is driving with trucks on the road: huge, eighteen-wheeled, 80,000 pound vehicles that carry everything from cotton to propane.
Semi-Trucks on the Road
We have all seen the signs: “caution wide turns” or “if you can’t see my mirror, I can’t see you.” These warnings are placed on most large trucks in an attempt to inform other drivers of the unique dangers trucks pose to non-commercial vehicles. There are other things drivers should be aware of, however, that are not posted on the side of the trucks. For example, it takes a truck forty percent longer than a car to come to a stop. This number may be greater where adverse road conditions, spills, or a blown tire come into play. The average truck is 70-80 feet long, while the average non-commercial car is less than 15 feet. Trucks are also much higher off the ground than regular cars—making it more difficult for truck drivers to view the cars around them while changing lanes or turning.
Trucks and the Law
Chapter 33 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code discusses the rights and responsibilities of drivers on public roadways. Truck drivers and passenger car drivers share the same rules of the road. While trucks often have lower speed limits, and may be requested to stay in the right two lanes on a highway, the rest of the rules apply regardless of the type of vehicle. Despite this fact, passenger car drivers have heightened obligations to be aware of their surroundings to ensure their safety around trucks.
For example, Chapter 33 explains when a vehicle may overtake another. Sufficient space must be left before a car can switch into the lane where another vehicle is traveling. With trucks, it is recommended that you do not pass in front of a truck leaving any less than three to four car lengths between your vehicle and the truck you are overtaking. The truck may be closer than it appears, and as you now know, it takes a truck much longer than a car to stop, should you cut in front of them too closely. Consider also the risks when following behind a truck. If a truck driver were to change lanes quickly in an emergency, you following closely and a moment of inattention could prove fatal. Instead, make sure you leave even more space between you and a truck than you normally would between you and a normal passenger vehicle.
Trucking Accidents in Pennsylvania
Trucking accidents can be catastrophic given the size, weight, and speed involved in these crashes. If you or someone you know has been injured or killed in a trucking accident, Solnick & Associates LLC may be able to help. Our knowledgeable, experienced Jenkintown, Pennsylvania-based auto accident attorneys know the right approach to navigate a truck accident claim in the legal system. We will ensure that you know the right questions to ask so that you can get the relief you are entitled to under the law. Regardless of whether you were driving the car, driving the truck, or a pedestrian or passenger, do not hesitate to contact our offices today for a free consultation about your potential claim.