According to the Road Safety Foundation, the drivers of passenger vehicles are at fault in nearly 80% of all motor vehicle accidents involving commercial trucks. Accidents involving semi-trucks in Louisiana often result in far more dire consequences than those involving two passenger vehicles, with common injuries including spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, paralysis and even death. Fortunately, by sharing the road and using a few safety tips, drivers throughout Bastrop and Monroe Parishes can help prevent future big-rig accidents.

Road Safety Foundation urges LA drivers to avoid distractions at all times. Texting and driving, reaching for an object, fiddling with the radio or even talking to a passenger can cause an accident. In many cases, accidents on the highway or freeway involve semi-trucks.

FleetNet America shares additional tips directly from the American Trucking Associations. The ATA encourages drivers to always drive defensively, especially when tractor-trailers are around. Because of their size and weight, semis have slower reaction times than smaller vehicles, making it more difficult for their drivers to avoid collisions. Drivers should pay attention to every surrounding detail, including vehicle signals, traffic flow and the weather. Vigilance can help drivers anticipate problems and safely change course if necessary.

The ATA also says to avoid truckers’ blind spots. The most significant blind spot for a commercial vehicle is the right side of the truck, which often blocks a trucker’s view for at least three lanes. Additional blind spots include behind the trailer and directly in front of the cab. If a driver cannot avoid blind spots, he or she should avoid speeding in those zones.

When passing a tractor-trailer, the ATA encourages drivers to pass quickly. Drivers should move over to the shoulder, giving the trailer as much clearance as possible.

Drivers should never cut off a commercial truck, as trucks need at least the length of two football fields to stop when driving at 65 mph. It is also smart to keep a safe distance when trailing or leading a semi-truck so as to prevent a collision in the event of a sudden stop.

Drivers should always use their traffic signals before turning or merging, as this gives a big-rig driver plenty of time to move over or slow down. Finally, the ATA reminds drivers to dim their brights before approaching a semi, as bright lights can cause two or more seconds of temporary blindness when traveling faster than 55 mph.