Create harmony on Oklahoma roads by sharing them with semis

By understanding the differences between semis and passenger vehicles, drivers in Oklahoma can help make their roads safer.

Heavy trucks have become a more common sight on the roads around Ponca City and this has created challenges for commuters. The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office states that in 2014, 9,613 drivers were in accidents that involved large trucks. Furthermore, 87 drivers died and 179 others were left with incapacitating injuries.

Drivers of passenger vehicles are at a high risk of severe injury, given the much larger size of a tractor trailer. While some accidents with these big rigs are caused by negligence on the part of truck drivers and companies, others are due to motorists' behavior around them. To lower their risk of colliding with a big rig, motorists should take the time to familiarize themselves with the differences between a passenger vehicle and a semi.

No zones

It is easy to assume that truckers have a bird's eye view from their high perch so drivers are often surprised by the fact that semis have extremely large blind spots, referred to as no zones. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance points out that, unlike cars which only have blind spots on either side, semis have a no zone in the front, rear and on the sides of the cab. Furthermore, the no zone on the right side of the cab is larger, extending from just behind the cab to several feet in front of the cab and covers two lanes in a diagonal direction.

Speed and braking

Many passenger cars have the ability to stop within just a short distance if there is an emergency situation. Newer cars come with power brakes and the ability to immediately increase or decrease their speed. However, semis are much larger and heavier vehicles. A semi pulling a single trailer with a full load can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and if the semi is pulling more than one trailer, that load could possibly double. Due to these factors, semis take a while to reach their full speed and require a longer length of road in which to stop. It can take up to two football field lengths for a tractor trailer to stop if it is carrying a full load and traveling at 55 miles per hour on a flat surface.

If the semi is traveling on a road with hills or through a mountain pass, the semi's weight will make it harder for it to maintain the speed limit. This is often why semis travel slower uphill. However, as the semi comes down the slope, that same weight causes the semi to travel faster with the gravity pull. Truckers often use this downhill speed to help them travel up the next hill, according to Edmunds.

Maneuverability

Unlike a passenger vehicle, a tractor trailer is unable to quickly change lanes or make a tight turn. If the semi is turning right, it may have to turn from the far right lane in order to have enough room. Passenger vehicles who try to sneak by them on the right could find themselves cut off.

Understanding the differences between tractor trailers and passenger vehicles can help people in Oklahoma make the roads safer. However, they cannot always prevent a truck accident caused by a distracted trucker or a trucking company's failure to properly load or maintain the vehicle. Therefore, victims of a trucking accident, may find it helpful to meet with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney.