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Teens may need reminders for safe driving habits around big rigs

Young drivers often revel in the freedoms that come with their newly-earned driver’s licenses. However, in their excitement to handle their transportation needs on their own, teens may forget some of the safe driving habits they learned early on, which can lead to hazardous situations.

Parents of new drivers may help protect their teens by providing periodic reminders about safe driving habits. In particular, make sure your teen knows how to drive safely when near big rigs. While all safety tips are important, it is especially important for drivers to know how to safely share the road with big rigs because crashes between these large trucks and passenger vehicles can be much more serious than similar types of crashes between two passenger vehicles.

What makes big rigs so dangerous?

The occupants of passenger vehicles are especially vulnerable in crashes involving big rigs because passenger vehicles weigh 20 or 30 times less than these large trucks. The extra weight of big rigs means that it takes longer for them to get up to speed and longer for them to come to a complete stop. The extra weight also means that big rigs can direct more force onto another vehicle in a crash.

Another dangerous aspect of big rigs is that they have a greater ground clearance than passenger vehicles have. This difference can result in an especially catastrophic type of crash called underriding, in which a car slides or is pushed underneath a truck.

Big rigs also have large blind spots on all four sides and require swinging wide to safely execute a turn. Operating limitations like these can present additional hazards to drivers who may make incorrect assumptions about a truck driver’s ability or intention on the road.

How can my teen stay safe around big rigs?

Reminding your teen how to drive safely around big rigs can help him or her avoid potentially dangerous situations. Some safe driving habits you can mention, include:

  • Stay out of big rig blind spots. If you cannot see the driver’s face through a window or in a mirror, it is safe to assume the driver cannot see you.
  • Only pass a big rig if it is necessary and safe to do so. Never pass on the right side, and avoid lingering in any blind spot.
  • Never cut off a big rig. Be sure to allow plenty of space between your vehicle and the truck before merging in front of it.
  • Avoid tailgating a big rig. Staying out of the rear blind spot can help reduce the chance of underriding the truck.
  • Expect a big rig to take wide turns. Never get between a turning truck and the curb, and stop behind the stop line at intersections.

Although your young driver probably learned these safety tips during driver training, teens sometimes forget safety tips once they are allowed to drive on their own, and they may benefit from a gentle reminder. If your teen has been injured in a crash involving a big rig, it may be appropriate to seek compensation for your teen’s medical expenses and other costs associated with the injury.

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