Be Wary of Big Rigs on Wintery Roads
The heavy snow and extreme low temperatures that have hit Minnesota over the past week have caused hundreds of accidents and spin-outs across the state. This includes at least one fatal accident involving a tractor-trailer and a passenger car.
Common Causes of Big Rig Accidents in Winter
Unfortunately, fatal accidents involving big rigs are on the rise, with the risks of fatal accidents increasing on icy and wet roads. So what exactly causes these semi truck accidents? Four common causes appear more often than not:
- Icy conditions: It’s no secret to Minnesotans that roads often carry a thick layer of ice on them from December through the first real thaw in March or April. For semi drivers who may not frequent our roads, however, the black ice and other slick conditions may come as a surprise.
- Heavy snow/poor driving conditions: Truck drivers often have tight deadlines and a limited amount of driving time available to meet those deadlines. To do this, drivers may need to stay on the road during heavy snow falls and blizzard-like conditions. These conditions only lead to slippery roads and poor visibility, which add up to potentially dangerous or deadly consequences.
- Mechanical problems: Extreme low temperatures and the battering of salt and sand require truckers to take better care of their vehicles. Improper or untimely maintenance during this time of year can wreak havoc on the roads.
- Poor judgment: Newer truck drivers or drivers that never received proper training may make poor driving choices that are costly in winter conditions. For instance, drivers may not pay attention and drive too close to other cars, or drivers they may not stay off of the roads during a storm because they believe their truck tires can handle the slick conditions.
Safety Tips for Driving Near Large Trucks
There are things you can do while you are behind the wheel to help avoid getting into an accident with a big rig:
- Stay at least 10 car lengths in front of a truck before switching into the same lane, as it takes the length of football field for a truck to stop
- Only pass a semi truck on the left, as a truck’s blind spot on the right extends the full length of its trailer
- When driving behind an 18-wheeler, make sure you can see the truck’s side-view mirrors; if you can’t see them, the driver can’t see you.
Do you have any other helpful safe driving tips when it comes to sharing the road with big rigs? If so, please share them here so we can help others avoid serious or even fatal big rig accidents.