Driving along the highway, you may see many things — mile markers, expanses of American countryside, hawks flying high and an assortment of semi trucks. Semi trucks can range from 18-wheelers carrying regional produce to trucks with two or three trailers to big rigs carrying oversized loads. No matter their size, it is important to exercise caution when driving alongside large trucks on highways like I-44, 55, 64 or 70 in order to avoid treacherous semi truck accidents in St. Louis and surrounding Missouri and Illinois counties.
In St. Louis City and County, there were more than 8 trucking accidents per day in 2020. With the average semi truck being 20-30 times heavier than a passenger vehicle, thousands of semi truck accidents cause devastating injuries and even death. In 2021, 155 people were killed in Missouri and 128 were killed in Illinois truck accidents. As Illinois and Missouri truck accident attorneys, we want all drivers to be aware and practice caution to avoid potential trucking accidents.
Here are our 8 tips to practice safe driving near semi trucks in Missouri and Illinois.
1. Avoid driving in the “No Zone.”
Cruising down the highway in a semi truck’s “no zones,” or blind spots, is a leading cause of semi truck accidents in Missouri, Illinois and throughout the United States. Truck drivers cannot see cars that drive in their blind spots located on their right middle, left middle and rear areas. A good driver’s rule is to make sure you can see the truck driver’s reflection in his or her side mirror from your driving distance. If you cannot see them, adjust accordingly by giving the truck more space or passing swiftly in the passing lane.
2. Create more space.
Semi trucks are longer, heavier and more visually obstructive than a typical passenger car. Leaving plenty of space between your car and a truck limits the risk for a Missouri or Illinois truck accident due to a sudden stop, construction work zone speeds or other unpredictable driving circumstances such as weather or debris from tires.
3. Don’t cut it too close.
Cutting off a semi truck after passing them or to get quickly into another lane is extremely dangerous. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), semi trucks and buses need the length of up to two football fields to safely stop. Be sure to give space and merge in a semi truck driver’s line of sight. If you merge too closely or cut off a truck completely in their blind spot, you increase your risk for semi truck accidents in Missouri or Illinois.
4. Be aware of wide turns.
Trucks need more room to clear a turn than other cars. Have patience and wait for a truck to complete their turn before continuing your drive. If a truck is making a right turn, they require extra room because the turns are tighter than a left turn. Trucks should properly exercise a button hook turn to avoid off-tracking and causing a trucking accident in the left lane.
5. Pass swiftly.
Only pass a semi truck when there is enough space ahead to do so safely. Make sure to signal properly before moving into the left lane, accelerate promptly to pass the truck and merge back into the right lane once the truck is visible in your right hand mirror.
6. Be alert if you need to pull over on a Missouri or Illinois highway.
Sometimes things happen and you need to pull over on the shoulder of the highway to assess a tire, investigate an emergency light or adjust a cargo carrier on the roof. If you need to pull over onto the highway shoulder, try to find a wide shoulder space or a designated pull off spot. Many Missouri and Illinois truck accidents occur when a passenger car is pulled over and a passing semi truck sideswipes the car after swerving too far into the shoulder.
7. Avoid distracted driving.
Driving on the highway may seem like a mindless task when you have miles of open road ahead. But, don’t let yourself become distracted by picking up your phone, spinning the dials on the radio or getting sleepy at the wheel. Keep your eyes on the road and plan your trip accordingly with premade music playlists, audiobooks or podcasts. If you need to take a break, pull over at a rest stop or gas station before resuming your drive.
8. Anticipate weather conditions.
Missouri and Illinois weather conditions change every day. Different storms happen everywhere, and sometimes they pop up unexpectedly. Bad weather due to rain, severe storms, snow or sleet may create difficult and dangerous driving conditions. Check your radar before beginning your trips and if bad weather is in the forecast, prepare accordingly by driving a safe distance from other cars and trucks or pausing at the nearest exit to avoid Missorui or Illinois truck accidents.
Stay Aware on the Road
While you cannot prevent every accident, taking note of these tips to avoid semi truck accidents will help you and others stay safe. As Illinois and Missouri truck accident attorneys, we prepare our truck accident cases with a different approach to ensure you get the best representation possible. When a trucking accident happens in Missouri or Illinois and you need an expert to take the wheel, look to MHM Legal to build you up and give you a clear direction forward.