Awareness of tractor trailers can reduce the risk of an accident

Drivers can lower their risk of getting into a truck accident by familiarizing themselves with these large rigs’ limitations.

With Lawrenceville in close proximity of Interstate 95, it is not uncommon for motorists to encounter tractor trailers. These big rigs play a vital role in the transportation industry but can cause serious injuries or death when they are involved in a motor vehicle accident. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that in 2013, over 3,500 people were killed in accidents involving large trucks.

This is a 31 percent increase from four years prior and these numbers are expected to climb as more trucks appear on roadways. The Commercial Carrier Journal recently reported that trucking companies will experience an increased need for goods in the next several years. With the expected growth of tractor trailers on the road, it is more important than ever for people in New Jersey to understand how these vehicles operate. This awareness may help them lower their risk of getting into a truck accident.


The first thing that motorists should understand is that a semi has much larger blind spots than a passenger vehicle. According to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, these are referred to as the no-zones. The no zones are located directly behind the trailer the truck is pulling, just behind the driver's seat on the left side, on the entire right side of the cab, and directly in front of the semi itself.

When motorists drive around the trucks, it is important for them to understand that a trucker cannot see them if they linger in these areas. Therefore, motorists should first, make sure that the trucker is aware of their presence and second, pass the truck as quickly as the speed limit allows. Once motorists have passed the tractor trailer, they should make sure that they can see the trucker in their rear-view mirror before they move in front of the truck.

Braking distance

An 18-wheeler pulling a single trailer can weigh around 80,000 pounds. In comparison, a passenger vehicle only weighs up to 5,000 pounds. With so much weight behind, it should not be surprising that a tractor trailer cannot stop on a dime. In fact, if a truck is traveling at 55 miles per hour in good weather conditions and on a good surface, the truck needs a stopping distance of almost two football fields.

This is significantly greater than a passenger vehicle and the distance only grows longer when trucks are pulling more trailers and weight. When motorists cut a commercial truck off in heavy traffic and have to slam on their brakes, the tractor trailer will have nowhere to go but into the rear end of their car.

Turning and merging

Many cars have tight turning capabilities and a quick acceleration speed. Therefore, it is common for motorists to believe that tractor trailers can do the same things. However, the sheer size and weight of semis makes it impossible. To avoid a jackknife situation, truckers often need to turn from a middle lane, rather than the right lane. If motorists in New Jersey try to beat the truck to the turn, they may find themselves cut off and caught in a squeeze situation. The same is true when a truck merges onto a roadway and it is important for drivers to slow down and give the truck the room it needs.

Despite a driver's best efforts, sometimes a truck accident is unavoidable due to a trucker's negligent actions. In such cases, it may be a good idea to speak with an attorney about seeking appropriate compensation.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury