According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a total of 3,660 people died in crashes with large trucks in 2014. While 16 percent of the fatalities were truck passengers or drivers, 68 percent were the occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, and 15 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists. The number of people who died in crashes with large trucks in 2014 represented a 16 percent increase in fatalities in a five-year period. And if you think fatal truck accidents only happen on interstates, you’d be wrong. Fewer than 30 percent of the truck accident-related fatalities in 2013 were on interstate highways.

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When driving, stay as far from trucks as you can. Blind spots and “no-zones” are the areas you can’t see when you drive, so you need to minimize your blind spots to see as much as possible. You also want to be clearly and easily seen by other drivers – particularly truck drivers. When a trucker’s negligence is the direct cause of a collision, and when someone is injured in that collision, the victim is entitled under the law to compensation for all of his or her past, present, and future medical costs and other losses stemming from the accident and injury.

Although he or she is “entitled” to it, an injury victim will receive compensation only if the victim can prove with a personal injury lawyer’s help that he or she was in fact injured and that the truck driver was negligent and directly caused the injury. In the state of Indiana, an experienced Evansville personal injury attorney can advise injury victims regarding their legal rights and options after a truck accident.

HOW CAN YOU MINIMIZE YOUR BLIND SPOTS?

Most passenger vehicles have blind spots – most vehicles are designed so that some parts of the road are not visible from the driver’s position. Even if you swing your head around to look – not a good idea – most vehicles are designed in ways that partially block a driver’s view. Adjusting your mirrors will not eliminate blind spots, but the making proper adjustments will make driving safer.

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You should adjust your driver’s-side mirror by sitting in your vehicle’s driver’s seat and moving the mirror until you see your vehicle appearing on the mirror’s inside edge. Adjust the passenger-side mirror the same way, and do it from the driver’s seat if possible, because that is where you’ll need it. Then take a quick drive around the block to confirm that the adjustments you’ve made are right.

HOW CAN YOU AVOID TRUCK NO-ZONES?

Your own vehicle’s blind spots are aggravating, but they are not nearly as hazardous as the blind spots of a large commercial truck. A lot of drivers wrongly presume that truck drivers have a better view of the road merely because their seats are higher. Truckers do have a better forward view, but their blind spots are much larger, and if you linger in the blind spots, you obstruct a truck driver’s ability to act evasively if necessary.

In general, if you cannot see a truck driver in his or her driver’s-side mirror, the truck driver does not see you. You must avoid the “no-zones,” those spaces at a large commercial truck’s side and rear where vehicles disappear into the big, dangerous blind spots that a truck creates. Truck drivers can’t see vehicles in their side no-zones, and that’s a real hazard if a lane change is needed.

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Never tailgate a truck. Tailgating puts you in a truck’s rear no-zone. The truck driver cannot see you and your own vision is substantially reduced. When you are passing a commercial truck, do not cut back in front of it too quickly. Wait until you’ve put some distance between the vehicles and you can clearly see the front of the truck in your inside rearview mirror before switching back into the other lane. Below is a list of some of the mistakes you need to avoid when you are driving in the vicinity of large commercial trucks:

1. Cutting off a truck to reach an exit or turn: Cutting in front of a truck is never a good idea. Where two lanes merge into one, do not speed up to beat a truck into the single lane – that eliminates the space a trucker needs to ensure safety, and it puts you, your passengers, and everyone in the vicinity at risk. Where two lanes merge into one, slow down and get behind the truck. Safety is more important.

2. Lingering beside a truck when passing it: Always pass a big truck on its left, never on the right. and after you pass the truck, move on ahead of it. Do not linger. You’ll be in the way if a truck driver must move into your lane for any reason.

3. Tailgating or just following a truck too closely: Tailgating a truck not only makes you invisible to the truck driver, but tailgating any vehicle reduces your own vison and your ability to brake safely if you need to.

4. Underestimating the speed or size of a commercial truck: Large trucks often trick the eye because they are actually moving faster than it appears. Many truck crashes happen at intersections when the other driver does not grasp how close a truck really is or how fast it’s moving.

ARE LARGE TRUCKS PRONE TO ROLLING OVER?

Yes, large trucks are prone to rolling over, and every driver needs to know this. A truck’s high center of gravity increases the risk of rolling over, particularly on curved roadways, ramps, and while making turns. In 2014, 51 percent of the fatalities among the occupants of commercial trucks happened in crashes that included roll-overs. Improperly-secured cargo can cause roll-overs and pose serious risks to a truck’s safe operation and to anyone in that truck’s vicinity. Federal law states: “Cargo must be firmly immobilized or secured on or within a vehicle.”

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Permanent disability and wrongful death are far too frequently the end results of commercial truck collisions. If someone sustains a spinal cord injury or a traumatic brain injury, or if someone loses an arm or a leg to amputation due to a trucker’s negligence, that person will need substantial compensation for long-term care. Anyone injured in an Indiana truck accident should seek the advice of an experienced Evansville personal injury attorney – someone who knows what it takes to win the compensation an injury victim will need.