On highways throughout New York City and Westchester County, driving defensively is a must. Many of the highways in this region and throughout the Northeast are older roadways that were not designed with modern traffic demands in mind. On these roadways as well as newer highways, high volume traffic can include passenger vehicles as well as buses, motorcycles, small commercial vehicles, and large semi-trailers. As a motorist, knowing how to share the road with all types of vehicle is critical to reducing and preventing collisions.

Semi-trailers are the large trailers pulled by semi-trucks. Together, these vehicles are frequently known as tractor trailers, but the terms “semi-trailer” and “semi truck” can also be used in this context. These trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and have space, grade, and speed considerations that smaller vehicles do not have. Understanding how these vehicles operate can help you to avoid a truck accident.

Steering and Braking a Semi-Trailer

Tractor trailers do not use the hydraulic braking system that passenger and light commercial vehicles use. Instead, they use air brakes, which make use of compressed air. When the driver brakes, air is pushed into the brake chamber, where it forces a push rod against the slack adjuster, which turns the camshaft, bringing the brake linings and brake drum together to slow the vehicle.

Steering a semi-trailer is similar to steering a passenger vehicle, but it requires a much firmer grip. A driver with a loose grip can easily lose control of the wheel if the truck hits a curb or pothole. Backing a tractor trailer is somewhat counterintuitive. To turn the rear of the truck left, the driver must cut the wheel to the right and vice versa.

A Semi-Trailer’s Blind Spots

If you cannot see your vehicle in a truck’s mirror, the driver cannot see you. A truck’s blind spots are its sides and its immediate front and back.

Driving Defensively when you Share the Road with Semis

When you share the road with this type of vehicle, always give the large trucks a greater following distance than you give other passenger vehicles. Large trucks need a longer span of space to come to a complete stop and in situations where truck drivers need to suddenly brake, having enough space between the truck and the next vehicle can mean the difference between a collision and a close call. A few other guidelines to follow when driving with large trucks:

  • Anticipate dangerous conditions and adjust your driving to correct them. For example, give all vehicles even greater following distance in wet weather and take turns less sharply; and
  • Do not enter a lane in front of a large truck unless you can see its grill in your rearview mirror. Otherwise, you are in the truck’s blind spot.

Work with an Experienced New York Truck Accident Lawyer

If you have been injured in a collision with a commercial truck, you could be entitled to recover compensation for your financial damages through a personal injury claim. To learn more, contact Grant & Longworth, Attorneys at Law, to schedule your initial consultation with an experienced truck accident attorney at our firm.