When one vehicle follows another too closely, it is referred to as tailgating. When you are driving a passenger car, having somebody tailgating you is both annoying and dangerous, and often leads to a completely preventable accident. But commercial drivers who operate enormous 18-wheel vehicles know that having a car tailgating them or riding in any of their “no zones” can lead to a deadly outcome and is responsible for many truck accidents.
Why you should never follow a truck too closely
It is not entirely clear why a driver would tailgate a huge vehicle like a commercial truck: doing so cuts off their field of vision completely and prevents them from being able to see traffic and signage ahead. Beyond their own comfort, when a passenger car follows too closely behind an 18-wheeler, the driver puts both himself and his passengers at significant risk for injury in a truck accident for the following reasons:
- Driving too closely behind a truck means they are unable to see what is happening ahead and can’t anticipate the truck stopping. This makes it more likely that they will slam into the back of the truck, and if that happens at a high rate of speed, their car could go under the truck and cause significant injuries to the car’s passengers.
- The driver of an 18-wheel vehicle has no way of seeing what is immediately behind them. This area is referred to as the rear no-zone, and it extends a good distance beyond their back liftgate. The best position for the driver of a small car is somewhere far enough back that they are able to see the trucks side view mirrors.
Drivers of cars should also respect a truck driver’s side no-zones and avoid driving to the side of a tractor-trailer because the driver can’t see them. The rule for driving around a truck is the truck’s side view mirror. If you can’t see the driver’s face in the mirror, you need to assume that they can’t see you and don’t know you’re there. If the truck needs to shift lanes suddenly they’ll do so, thinking the lane is clear.
A surprisingly large number of accidents between large trucks and passenger vehicles are caused by mistakes made by the driver of the smaller vehicle, but in a truck accident, it’s the passengers in the smaller vehicle who end up with the worst injuries. If someone you love has been hurt in a truck accident, call us today to learn what your rights are.