Maneuvering a long, heavy tractor trailer in traffic, is much more challenging than many passenger car drivers may realize. They can be slow, and are difficult to stop. Semi trucks also require a different method of handling than cars, especially when making turns. How a smaller vehicle is driven when approaching a truck that is turning, can be an important factor in preventing semi truck wrecks, since these vehicles can be squeezed, or crushed, due to turning radius or off-tracking. Unfortunately, truck accident lawyers see many cases every year where occupants of passenger vehicles are injured in just this way. The best advice to drivers of smaller vehicles, who want to prevent injuries from being crushed by a semi truck, is to look for this potential situation and ensure they avoid it.
Turning Radius and Big Rigs
Due to the length of tractor trailer vehicles, making turns is much more difficult than it is for passenger sized vehicles and light trucks. Even though the tractor and the trailer are two separate articulating units, the length of the trailer, requires them to have a much greater turning radius when making right or left turns. On open roads, or where entrances, ramps and other turns are designed for easier negotiation by semi trucks, turning is less difficult. However, on city streets and smaller roads, turning can become problematic.
Right-hand turns sometimes require a truck driver to pull past the normal boundaries of the lane into which they are turning. This is to avoid running over curbs or objects on sidewalks. Left-hand turns sometimes cause trucks to off-track, where the rear wheels of the trailer cut closer to oncoming traffic, rolling in a different path than the front wheels. When other vehicles do not account for this, they can become trapped or pinched in the space the truck requires to make its turn, causing an accident.
Turning Trucks and Squeeze Play Accidents
Truck accident lawyers suggest the most common occurrence of these semi truck wrecks (sometimes called “squeeze play” accidents), is when drivers of other vehicles do not understand the space requirements of big trucks. In especially tight situations, a semi truck driver may be forced to make a right-hand turn from the left lane rather than the normal right turn lane. Cars that are directly to the right of the truck, without giving the semi driver any room, can be “pinched” when the truck turns. Similarly, when drivers of vehicles extend past intersection markers at a red light, they can become trapped between a semi that cannot finish its left turn and the vehicle behind them. When these incidents occur, cars can be squeezed or even crushed if the truck driver is unaware of their presence, resulting in serious injuries and even fatalities.
Avoiding Squeeze Accidents with Semi Trucks
Preventing big rig squeeze accidents requires drivers of other vehicles to pay attention to what these trucks are doing. Drivers should always look to see if a truck is turning, and if so, give them plenty of room. Small vehicle drivers should not drive up beside a semi making a right turn. They should also make certain they stop well before the intersection at a red light when there is a semi truck waiting to make a left turn. Ultimately, the truck driver must assume responsibility as to whether they proceed with a turn or not; but in many instances, drivers are unaware of cars that sneak in beside them, or otherwise block their turns.
Reducing the incidence of semi truck wrecks, and motor vehicle accidents in general, requires safe driving habits from everyone sharing the roads. Giving consideration to those with the challenging task of handling semi trucks in small spaces goes a long way in promoting safe driving, and reducing the risk of injuries sustained in trucking accidents. Truck accident lawyers agree that squeeze play accidents are avoidable when all drivers work together!
Pearland, Pasadena, Webster, League City, Webser, Manvel, Alvin, Friendswood, La Marque, Texas City, and Galveston
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
Phone: (281) 408-2190