5 tips to help New York drivers lower their risk of truck crashes

Drivers can lower their risk of experiencing truck crashes by using best practices when following, passing and otherwise maneuvering near trucks.

Large truck accidents pose a serious threat to drivers in New York City. In 2014 alone, more than 11,800 of these accidents occurred throughout New York State, according to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. Over one in four of these crashes caused injuries, and tragically, lives were lost in 74 of these accidents.

The NYSDMV states that in over four-fifths of fatal truck accidents, the car driver suffers the catastrophic injuries. Consequently, it's essential for New York drivers to understand the measures that may help them avoid large truck crashes.

1. Recognize blind spots

Trucks have much larger blind spots than other vehicles, according to the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Motorists should always avoid driving directly behind or to the right of trucks, where the blind spots are largest. When passing trucks on the left, drivers should remember that they are in a blind spot anytime that they cannot see the trucker's face.

Unlike other vehicles, trucks also have front blind spots, as the New York Department of Transportation explains. This area may extend up to 20 feet in front of the cab. Therefore, drivers should always avoid cutting close in front of trucks.

2. Leave enough stopping distance

It's also advisable for drivers to avoid the space immediately in front of a truck because trucks require significantly more distance to stop than other vehicles. This happens in part because trucks use air brakes, which causes a delay in brake response. The large mass of trucks also necessitates a greater stopping distance. To reduce the risk of rear-end accidents, drivers should not merge in front of a truck until they can see the entire vehicle in the rearview mirror.

3. Follow cautiously

Many people may believe it is safe to follow closely behind trucks because they can stop their own vehicles more quickly than the truck can stop. However, this can introduce several dangers, according to the CDOT, including the following risks:

  • The truck may safely pass over road hazards that can damage a smaller vehicle.
  • The truck may block a driver's view of these hazards, changing traffic conditions or oncoming vehicles.
  • An abrupt stop on the part of the truck may lead to an under-ride collision, which can cause severe vehicle damage and injuries.

By leaving an adequate following distance, drivers can also ensure that they avoid the truck's rear blind spot.

4. Pass strategically

The NYDOT recommends that drivers be careful to only pass trucks when there is adequate time and space to do so. Passing on uphill stretches of road, when trucks typically lose momentum, can minimize the time needed to complete the maneuver. Drivers should avoid passing on downhill grades, when trucks typically gain speed.

5. Watch turn signals

The NYDOT notes that trucks often swing wide in one direction to prepare for turns in the other direction. Unnecessary large truck crashes may occur when drivers misunderstand a trucker's intentions and attempt to pass on the wrong side during this maneuver. Drivers should always check the turn signals or simply refrain from passing turning trucks.

Addressing other accidents

Although these tips can help lower the risk of truck accidents, drivers may still be vulnerable to crashes in which truckers are at fault. Fortunately, victims may have legal recourse in these cases. A truck accident attorney may be able to offer advice on assessing liability and seeking appropriate recompense after one of these accidents.