Sharing the road with a big truck? Be sure it keeps its distance

There's not much more frightening on the road in California than looking in your car's rearview mirror and seeing a huge truck barreling toward you as you wait in traffic. Just in the nick of time, the truck stops. Sigh of relief.

Commercial truck drivers must be extra-aware of tailgating, or driving too closely. It takes a long time for a truck to come to a complete stop, so drivers must leave plenty of room between their truck and the car in front of it.

The thought is that truck drivers should leave at least one truck-trailer length for every 10 miles per hour. That means a truck traveling 65 miles per hour needs at least 6.5 trailer lengths between it and the car ahead for safe stopping.

That isn't always a foolproof solution, though. Driving in poor weather, with bad tires, in rough terrain or with worn brakes will require farther to stop than driving in good weather does.

Often, trucks will travel in a group. The convoy is only as good as all the drivers are. If one truck driver makes a bad decision, it can cause a chain reaction and a serious accident.

A driver's goal always should be to put their truck in a place where it has the smallest chance of interacting with other vehicles on the road. That's because drivers never can predict hitting an ice patch, encountering freezing rain or other such hazards.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), nearly 4,000 people died in large truck crashes in 2016. Keep from becoming a statistic. As you drive, always keep an eye on large trucks. If a truck is following you and you don't anticipate a safe stopping distance, pull into another lane to allow the tractor-trailer to pass you.

If you or a family member is involved in a crash with a large truck and have suffered an injury, contact a California attorney for guidance. You deserve to be compensated in case of injury to yourself or in the wrongful death of a loved one.

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