Driving around large trucks

The truck driver only had a moment to react when other vehicles collided in front of him on a busy interstate in Maryland. The resulting accident left the fuel tanker on its side, blocking almost the entire highway.

No one died in this crash in early 2015, according to ABC affiliate WJLA in Washington, D.C. But after many accidents involving a large truck, the outcome can be much worse.

In 2013, more than 2,400 motorists in passenger vehicles died in crashes involving a large truck, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported. Since these crashes are a major cause of traffic deaths, knowing how to share the road with big trucks may save your life.

Tractor-trailers have big presence on roadways
Whether you call them big-rigs or semis, State Farm noted 11 million travel along America's roadways.

They can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, which means they handle differently than your car, SUV or pickup under normal circumstances. Because of tractor-trailers' huge size, truck drivers may also have a more difficult time avoiding crashes with the traffic around them.

When a truck driver going 65 miles per hour steps on the brakes, a heavily loaded truck may travel another 300 feet before stopping, according to Geico. That's nearly the distance of a football field.

Share the road with trucks to help keep yourself safe
To help reduce your chance of a collision with a large truck, Geico recommended following these safety tips:

  • Stay out of tractor-trailers' blind spots: Truck drivers may not see you if you're driving directly in front, behind or in certain areas alongside the truck. Minimize the amount of time you spend in these areas.
  • Give the driver plenty of space: If you're going to pass a tractor-trailer, drive far enough ahead of it that you can see the entire front of the truck in your rear-view mirror before you merge into its lane. Also, try not to swerve into a big truck's lane or suddenly slow down when it is coming up behind you. Its driver may not be able to come to a stop or avoid you in time.
  • Let it turn: When tractor-trailer drivers turn right at an intersection, they may need extra space on that side. Avoid pulling up directly to the right-hand side of the truck when you see the driver is going to turn right. This can help you and your car avoid a "squeeze" crash.

    By driving with caution around tractor-trailers, you may reduce your risk of an accident that can raise your car insurance rates – and you might even save a life.

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