Dos and do nots of sharing the road with large trucks in Illinois

Sharing the road with large commercial vehicles in Illinois may have some hazards, but there are things drivers can do to help improve their safety.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were 19,945 trucking collisions in 2014 alone. Due to the size and weight of commercial motor vehicles in relation to smaller passenger automobiles, such accidents often result in serious injuries or deaths. Sometimes, crashes involving large trucks are caused by factors beyond drivers' control, including inclement weather, poor road conditions or even truck driver fatigue. However, there are several things motorists can do to help improve their safety when sharing the road with tractor trailers and other commercial vehicles.

Do be aware of the blind spots

Large trucks have sizeable blind spots on all four sides. Motorists should keep in mind that they are not visible to truck operators if they are driving directly behind large trucks, are traveling on their right sides, if they cannot see the truckers' side view mirrors while driving on their left, and when they are in front of a truck and cannot see the entire front end in their rear-view mirror. Thus, it is best for drivers to stay out of these areas as much as possible when sharing the road with large commercial vehicles.

Do not linger when passing

Passing tractor trailers may be one of the most hazardous maneuvers for drivers to perform when sharing the road with these large vehicles. Once they have passed large trucks, motorists should move ahead of them. This helps them return to an area where they and their vehicles are visible to the truck operators. Additionally, it keeps them from blocking the trucker from taking evasive action to avoid obstacles or other hazards that may appear on the road in front of them.

Do keep in mind the time it takes to stop

When traveling at highway speeds, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration points out it may take fully loaded trucks the distance of nearly two football fields to come to a stop. These large vehicles may require even more distance in inclement weather or on roads with poor conditions. Drivers should keep this in mind, therefore, and refrain from suddenly stopping or cutting in front of tractor trailers. Allowing large trucks the distance they need to stop safely may help prevent some rear-end collisions, which may lead to severe injuries or death for those involved.

Do not tailgate

Tailgating, or following too closely behind another vehicle, is always dangerous as it removes the safety cushion between people's automobiles and those in front of them. This behavior may be particularly hazardous when traveling behind tractor trailers, however, because their rear bumpers do not typically align with those of passenger vehicles. Consequently, cars, trucks or SUVs may slide up under these large trucks should they strike them from behind. To help avoid such risks, drivers may find it helpful to make sure they can see trucks' side view mirrors when traveling behind them.

Seeking legal guidance

As a result of trucking accidents, people in Illinois and elsewhere may suffer serious injuries. Should they require medical care and time off work to recover because of their injuries, they may incur undue medical expenses and lose income. In some situations, the trucking companies or truckers may be held financially responsible for the resulting losses. Therefore, those who have been injured in collisions involving large trucks may benefit from discussing their rights and options with an attorney.

  • Foundation
  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • American Association For Justice