Konicek & Dillon, P.C.

Truck drivers must be especially cautious when merging

You might be one of many Illinois motorists who wish they didn't have to share the roadway with so many commercial truck drivers. Do you ever plan your travel time or take a back road in order to avoid trucks on the highway? If so, you're definitely not alone in these endeavors. Many travelers would rather take alternate routes -- even if it means reaching their destinations will take longer -- than try to stay safe on highways where tractor-trailers and other big trucks are barreling by.

Truck drivers operate under different regulations from non-commercial vehicle drivers. At the same time, they are legally obligated to adhere to all traffic laws and safety regulations that other motorists must follow as well. As a licensed driver, you know that merging can be a particularly challenging maneuver. If a truck driver is dealing with a distraction or being reckless, a merger can quickly result in disaster.

Keep these things in mind when merging

When you exit or enter a roadway, or even when you are changing lanes, you're at risk for a merging collision. Commercial truck drivers understand that the extra weight of their vehicles makes it more difficult to come to a quick stop. When you're merging, keep that in mind if there are trucks nearby.

Entering a highway while traveling at a much lower speed than the cars and trucks that are passing by is dangerous. Skilled and experienced drivers know that it is much safer to adjust travel speed to match the current flow of traffic when merging. Another good tip is to look for a vehicle you can safely merge behind rather than one you can get in front of when planning to enter a roadway.

Exiting a highway is often highly dangerous

In a perfect world, every driver would safely navigate his or her way to the farthest lane nearest an exit in order to take a ramp. In reality, truck drivers and others often make sudden, unpredictable maneuvers that place themselves and all others nearby at risk for serious injuries.

How many times have you witnessed a driver jolt across lanes of traffic and cut another driver off in order to take an exit without first safely moving into the lane closest to it? This is one of the most common causes of merging collisions.

No turn signal doesn't mean driver will go straight

If you're traveling behind a commercial truck and you are approaching an exit, you might logically assume the driver plans to continue on a straight path if he or she is not using a turn signal. The problem is, many truck drivers fail to use their turn signals at the proper times. It's safest to signal at least several hundred feet before taking an exit. However, you should always be mindful of the possibility that a commercial truck driver or other motorist might make a sudden move without taking your safety into account.

Injuries are often more severe in truck accidents

The force of sudden impact when a commercial truck collides with a smaller vehicle often results in serious, if not fatal, injuries. Staying cautious and alert at all times definitely improves your chances of arriving safely to your chosen destination. The fact is, however, sometimes, there's nothing you can do to avoid a crash when the other driver is negligent or reckless.

In such cases, it's critical that you seek immediate medical attention (unless you're unconscious, in which case, rescue workers will transport you to a hospital or trauma center), and also, that you make sure you have the post-accident support you need to achieve as full a recovery as possible.

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