Safety Tips for Driving Near Tractor Trailers

South Florida is a busy place brimming with tourists and residents, boats and bicycles, pedestrians and commuters. With 1.9 million semi tractors registered for use in the United States that are responsible for pulling 5.6 million semi trailers, nearly every major thoroughfare is crowded with 18-wheelers rumbling along on their way to pick up or drop off their cargo. Whether you encounter these 40-ton giants on I-75 or I-395, the North–South or the Dolphin Expressway, there are a few driving tips that may help you avoid an accident.

Quick Tips for Driving Near 18-Wheelers Safely

Quick Tips for Driving Near 18-Wheelers Safely

  • Stay out of blind spots.
  • Keep a safe following distance.
  • Always use turn signals when passing.
  • Avoid getting squeezed.
  • Give wider berths uphill and downhill.
  • Avoid road rage.
  • Drive a safe speed adjusted for the conditions.

► A typical tractor-trailer has a wheel-to-wheel base of 250 feet wide and, in Florida, one truck is permitted to pull two 33-foot trailers. That’s a lot of space to keep track of and results in blind spots on all sides that other drivers on the road need to avoid. Imagine the truck surrounded in a “no-zone” where if you can’t see the driver, he or she can’t see you. The safest action to take is to err on the side of caution and assume that the driver does not know you are there, whether you are in a blind spot or not. Also, don’t pull back in after passing a truck until you can see its front wheels in your mirror.

► Stay 20 to 25 car lengths away when you're behind any tractor-trailer. That will allow the driver to see you in the side view mirror and also give you time to react if the truck blows a tire or spits debris out the back.

► Signal your intentions and pass on the left side. Tractor-trailer drivers often need to make wide turns at intersections, which may mean swinging far to the left in order to make a safe turn to the right. Stay out of the space between the truck and the curb to avoid being “squeezed.”

► Be mindful of what it takes for a semi to get up a hill – and down the other side. Trucks often struggle to go up an incline, but once they crest, they want to glide down. Don’t swerve in front of them, cause them to brake suddenly, or drive aggressively when they sail past you on the downhill after you have just gotten ahead of them on the uphill. Check your mirrors often – trucks appear further away than they actually are, and their speed may be hard to judge. And try to avoid driving between two trucks, due to blind spots and their need for increased braking distance.

► All defensive driving is based on driving at a speed that is safe for the conditions.

As one of South Florida's most respected and oldest law firms, Stabinski Lawhas helped many people sort out their legal rights, responsibilities, and remedies. For 45 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless traffic collision victims, and we are highly experienced in handling a wide range of auto and truck accident cases. We also work on a contingency basis, which means that if there is no recovery, there is no fee or cost to you. If you wish to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 305-643-3100 or filling out a case evaluation form.