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Tips to avoid pitfalls of highway driving with commercial trucks

Driving on the highway is inherently dangerous. Automobiles of all sizes whip around at blinding speeds and many drivers become nonchalant or complacent behind the wheel. Countless distractions are engaged, despite most of us knowing that texting while driving is a "no-no", or applying make-up, or groping for that bag of salted cashews at the bottom of our briefcase.

We seek to interrupt what can become mind-numbing boredom commuting to work every day or spending hours on the roads when a phenomenon called "highway hypnosis" sets in. Throw in hulking commercial vehicles that virtually make your car vibrate in the currents as they sail past, and it's a recipe for disaster and tragedy that is far too prevalent on the roads.

While safely driving on the highway is easier said than done, these five tips can help:

  • Avoid blind spots: Large vehicles have many blind spots, as drivers can only see so much in their mirrors. Avoid blind spots, such as those directly behind or next to a tractor-trailer, so the driver knows where you are at all times.
  • Take caution when merging: Merging onto the highway is often challenging, as vehicles established in traffic are moving fast and there's not always a lot of room to join them. Maintain your speed as you travel toward the merge point, use your turn signal and pinpoint a break in traffic that will allow you to safely join.
  • Stay in your lane: Many highway accidents are the result of a lane change. For instance, many people make it a habit to jump from lane to lane with hope of saving time during rush hour. Doing this increases the risk of an accident, especially if you make an illegal maneuver, such as changing lanes without signaling or leaving enough space.
  • Maintain a calm demeanor: Truck drivers often drive aggressively, which can cause you to become upset. However, if you also engage in aggressive driving, it only makes things worse. Keep your cool and drive in a defensive manner.
  • Avoid distractions: You can't control what other drivers are doing, such as a trucker who is reading a map while behind the wheel, but you can make sure that you always pay attention to the road and your surroundings.

If a trucker causes an accident on the highway, move to the shoulder of the road and call 911 for help. Due to the size difference of your vehicles, there's a good chance you've suffered a serious injury such as broken bones, lacerations and a blow to the head.

Once you receive treatment and discuss your prognosis with your medical team, file an insurance claim and make note of the many steps you can take to obtain compensation from the negligent trucker and/or their employer.

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John McCabe wrote "The Investigation and Analysis of Personal Injury Cases" in the best-selling book Personal Injury Practice in North Carolina. This is the book that other lawyers follow in handling personal injury cases.

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