Beware of Semi-Trucks
Years ago I was driving to court in Washington County. I was minding my own business driving in the center lane, when suddenly I felt a bump to my car. My car started to spin in circles on the freeway as I frantically tried to maintain control of the car. As I was spinning, I was praying no other cars were going to come along and plow into me. From the corner of my eye, on the right side my car (I was in the middle lane), I saw a semi truck blow by me. I wind up in the median in a ditch along the fence where I safely brought my vehicle to a stop. Luckily, I was not hurt. I was dazed and a bit disoriented, having gone in circles on the freeway at 60 MPH. My car luckily, wasn’t damaged either, except for some bumper damage on the rear, and some scrapes on the driver’s side from hitting the median fence. It could have been a lot worse. I couldn’t pull my car out of the ditch and need to be towed. As I was waiting, someone must have called for help, because a sheriff pulled up behind me shortly after that. There was a witness to the incident who followed the semi-truck and pulled him over. The witness came back to me and told me what the truck driver said. The truck driver said I cut into his lane, and he couldn’t avoid hitting me. That was obviously a lie. The witness told me that he saw everything and I did nothing wrong. The semi-truck driver simply must have been dozing off or inattentive driving and rear ended me on the freeway. I thanked the witness for staying and talking to the sheriff and giving his statement. After the tow truck pulled me out, believe it or not, I continued onto court that day and made my court appearance for my client. What can you do to safe guard yourself against large trucks and semi trucks on the roads? They seem to be everywhere lately, sometimes traveling together in a convoy. Here are some practice tips you can follow;
1. Always be alert and practice defensive driving. I distinctly remember the Department of Transportation ad campaign in the early 70s, “watch out for the other guy.” The best way to avoid accidents it to be cautious of them in the first place. Large trucks have blind spots, which makes it exceedingly difficult for them to see you on the road. Don’t assume they can see you. Don’t try to pass them, if it is not safe to do so. Keep your distance and watch out for them and any sudden moves they might make.
2. Passing on the right. Many drivers make a mistake by trying to get ahead of a semi truck that is turning right, and making their turn first. Semi-trucks make a wide right turn, and if you are on their right, and they don’t see you, you are going get struck. Most semi-trucks even carry warnings on the back of the trailer not to do such a maneuver.
3. Overtaking a semi truck is equally dangerous. How many times have you been on the freeway and behind a big truck and decide it’s time to pass. As you start to begin the lane change, you see the trailer swaying back and forth and start to wonder if you made the right choice. Equally as dangerous is when you are alongside them and decide to cut into their lane. You have to leave extra distance between your vehicle and the truck. Trucks don’t stop like cars do and if you don’t allow yourself enough room, they could hit you.
If you are in an accident with a semi-truck, expect them to make you look like you caused the accident, just like what happened to me on my way to court years ago. Look immediately for witnesses and other motorists who can tell the investigating officer what happened. Obviously if you are seriously hurt, you may not be able to do so, but where you can, get names, addresses, phone numbers of every witness.
Pretty much every car-truck accident we have in the office or have had in the past, the truck driver winds up blaming our client for how the accident happened, and either the insurance company or the trucking company if self insured, takes a hard line stance and denies the claim. Truck drivers are very protective of “their turf.”
As the ad campaign slogan once read, do “watch out for the other guy.” Be safe on the roads.
If you have any questions about a semi truck accident, contact our attorneys.