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What are the differences between tractor trailers and passenger cars?

Tractor trailers are heavier and larger than passenger vehicles and therefore have unique limitations.

Tractor trailers are a common sight for motorists in Augusta, but driving around these big rigs can be hazardous. While the number of trucking accidents in Georgia is not known, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that truck accidents throughout the U.S. injured over 100,000 people and claimed the lives of 3,921 others in 2012. The report also shows that 73 percent of people who were injured were those in passenger cars.

For motorists, tractor trailers are often a nuisance. They usually travel slower than other vehicles, they take up a lot of space on a highway lane, and they can block traffic when making a turn or backing into a place. It is important for people to understand, though, that tractor trailers have many limitations and by giving them respect, they can lower their own risk of getting into a serious collision.

Semis don't stop on a dime

Newer vehicles come with many improvements and this can give drivers a false sense of safety on the road. For example, power brakes enable people in passenger cars to stop within a couple of feet and in just a few seconds. However, a tractor trailer pulling a loaded trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds according to Geico Insurance. These trucks require a stopping distance of 300 feet if they are traveling at 65 miles per hour and this distance would increase if the truck is pulling more than one trailer.

When drivers cut in front of a truck during heavy traffic, they are putting themselves and others at unnecessary risk. Heavy traffic is often unpredictable and the drivers may find themselves in a position where they have to slam their foot on the brake. If they have failed to give the semi that stopping distance, the truck has nowhere to go but into the rear of their vehicle.

Truckers can't see everything

Semis have large side mirrors and truckers sit at a height much higher than passenger car drivers. This gives some drivers the impression that the trucker can see everything going on around them. However, State Farm states that tractor trailers have large no zones, or blind spots. These areas are behind the trailer, directly in front of the cab of the truck and each side of the cab.

Drivers can help improve their visibility to truckers by looking for the image of the trucker in the semi's side view mirrors before they pass the semi. Signal lights also help truckers understand what driver's intentions are and avoids confusion. Blinking headlights is discouraged as it is not a universally recognized message code. If drivers are passing a semi, they should wait until they can see the trucker in their rear view mirror before moving over in front of the semi.

Increasing one's awareness of tractor trailers can help motorists lower their risk of serious injury. However, there are moments when drivers cannot prevent the negligent actions of a trucking company or trucker. When this occurs, victims should consider discussing their options with a knowledgeable trucking accident lawyer.

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