driving behind a semi-truck | Studinski Law, LLC
October 3, 2022

What To Do When Driving Behind a Semi-Truck

Knowing what to do when driving behind a semi-truck could help you avoid an extremely dangerous situation. If a truck in front of you slows down, stops, or loses control suddenly, you are at risk of being involved in a serious crash.

The attorneys at Studinski Law, LLC have seen the devastation a truck wreck can have on accident victims and their families. If you were involved in a collision with a large commercial vehicle, we may be able to help you seek compensation for your physical, financial, and emotional losses.

What Should You Do When Driving Behind a Semi-Truck?

Below is an overview of steps you can take when you are sharing the road with a semi-truck in Wisconsin:

1. Stay Alert

When following an 18-wheeler, it’s important to focus on the road and avoid distractions. Distracted driving is extremely dangerous in any situation, but activities like checking your cell phone, eating, or grooming when in the vicinity of a semi-truck can have catastrophic consequences.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation recorded more than 10,000 wrecks due to distracted driving in 2021, a 13% increase from 2020. Deaths caused by distracted driving are also on the rise in recent years. In 2019, 26 people were killed, there were 31 fatalities in 2020, and approximately 40 people perished in distracted driving accidents in 2021. To stay safe behind the wheel, resist the urge to check your cell phone, and instead give your full attention to the task of driving. It could save your life and the lives of others on the road.

Read More: What Are the Main Causes of Wisconsin Traffic Fatalities?

2. Pass Safely

It can be frustrating for many motorists to drive behind a large commercial vehicle. In addition to feeling inconvenienced by tractor-trailers, drivers can simply be uncomfortable being close to such massive and potentially dangerous vehicles.

In situations where you’d like to put as much distance between you and the big rig, only attempt to pass when conditions are safe. Ensure there is enough room to pass, engage your turn signal, and change lanes without getting too close to the semi-truck.

3. Make Sure You Can See the Truck’s Mirrors

If you cannot see the mirrors of the truck in front of you, the truck driver cannot see you. To ensure you are visible to the driver of a tractor-trailer, leave an adequate distance between you and the 18-wheeler. When traveling in a wide lane, maneuver your vehicle more to the left side of the lane – this will position your vehicle more directly behind the side view mirror on the driver’s side of the truck.

What To Avoid When Driving Behind a Tractor-Trailer

Just as it is important to know what to do when driving behind a big rig, you need to know dangerous behaviors to avoid behind a large truck.

1. Do Not Follow Large Commercial Vehicles Too Closely

Never tailgate an 18-wheeler. If the truck in front of you comes to a sudden stop, you won’t have enough time to react safely. Not only that, if you are following so closely that the truck’s driver is unable to see you, he or she might handle an emergency situation differently than if they knew you were there.

Even if the rig is driving in the passing lane instead of the right lane or traveling under the speed limit, you should never put yourself in a dangerous situation. Remain calm, be patient, and follow the rules of the road for safe and legal passing.

2. Do Not Make the Situation More Dangerous for Yourself or Others

When driving behind a tractor-trailer, avoid creating unnecessary risks for yourself, other motorists, or the truck driver. Adhere to the rules of the road and refrain from driving aggressively. Do not merge into another lane without sufficient room to do so, and do not cut off the semi-truck after you pass it.

Of course, even the safest drivers cannot control the actions of others on the road. If a wreck occurs as the result of a negligent truck driver or other issue related to the truck’s maintenance, parts, or loading, a Wisconsin truck accident lawyer at Studinski Law, LLC can help you seek the justice and compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses.

3. Do Not Assume the Semi’s Turn Signals or Brake Lights Work

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that an “inoperable required lamp” is involved in more than 10 percent of all commercial truck inspection violations. This means that for every 10 tractor-trailers, at least one has a faulty turn signal, brake light, or other light that does not work.

If you find yourself behind a large commercial vehicle, pay attention, leave plenty of distance, and be prepared to respond quickly if the truck begins to swerve or slow down. Do not rely solely on the truck’s lights to know what the truck driver is doing (or plans to do).

Talk to a Wisconsin Truck Accident Lawyer for Free

Knowing what to do when driving behind a semi-truck can reduce the risk of a crash, but nothing guarantees your safety on the road. If you or a loved one was hurt in a wreck, the attorneys at Studinski Law, LLC want to hear your story.

See our results.

Contact us today online or at (715) 343-2850 for a FREE initial consultation. We serve clients in Marshfield, Plover, and all areas of Wisconsin.

Jason Studinski Injury Attorney
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