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Don't let big rigs intimidate you -- practice these safety tips

If you are a licensed driver in Kentucky, you are likely accustomed to big rigs on the highways. Tractor-trailers can be sizeable hazards to dodge when you change lanes, and a drive during peak hours can become nerve-racking. Some of the most dangerous areas to navigate when there are careless or negligent truck drivers present include Interstate 75 and Interstate 71 along with the Cut-in-the-Hill stretch of highway in Covington.

Tractor-trailers, semis and 18-wheelers are only as safe as their drivers are. Although commercial truck drivers need special licenses, that does not make them safer. Overloaded trucks or unbalanced loads can make it impossible for the drivers to maintain proper control of their vehicles, and fatigued truckers who exceed allowed driving hours could cause catastrophic crashes.

What can you do to stay safe?

You must keep in mind that truckers have limitations and restricted capabilities. If you become familiar with those and keep the following safety tips in mind, you may avoid circumstances that can threaten your life and the safety of your passengers:

  • Blind spots: Remember that a trucker can only see you if you can see him or her in the truck's side mirror. Therefore, the area directly behind the truck and certain spots on both sides are blind spots to avoid — especially on the left side.
  • Following distance: Avoid following too closely behind a commercial truck. The safe distance in clear weather is three seconds and more in poor conditions.
  • Passing: Patience is vital when you want to pass a big rig because of the length of the truck, and you must ensure there will be enough time to complete the maneuver without encountering oncoming traffic. Build up enough speed, and avoid getting too close to the back of the truck before moving into the passing lane.
  • Cutting in: Large trucks cannot stop suddenly, and if you cut in front of a big rig after passing it or upon entering from an on-ramp, you might set yourself up for a serious rear-end crash. When a truck driver brakes suddenly, the load on the vehicle can shift, and this could cause the driver to lose control.
  • Splash and spray: While water sprayed or splashed onto your windshield creates a danger, there is not much you can do except to be aware and expect it. You can switch your car's windshield wipers on just before a passing truck reaches you, to limit the time that your vision will be limited.
  • Air turbulence: Another unexpected effect of oncoming trucks is the force of the air turbulence. Make sure you have a firm grip of the steering wheel to avoid losing control.
  • Space for turning: Tractor-trailers need extra space when they turn, and they might even cross over the center line to prepare for a left turn. Keep a lookout for the indicators of trucks, and always leave them the space they need.

If you are the victim of a truck accident in Kentucky, despite your best efforts to avoid it, you may face several challenges. When commercial trucks strike passenger cars, the consequences can be catastrophic. Mounting medical bills, lost income and other resulting misfortunes can be overwhelming. However, resources are available to help you deal with insurance companies and to navigate legal proceedings in pursuit of recovery of damages if negligence caused your accident.

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