The Texas Department of Transportation reminds all drivers to take extra care when operating trucks because collisions between passenger vehicles and 18-wheelers and other large trucks can result in death or serious injury.
Thousands of big trucks and 18-wheel tractor-trailers haul cargo on busy Texas highways every day. Weighing 20 times more than an average car, “big trucks” require more time to accelerate and decelerate. For example, a loaded 80,000-pound 18-wheeler traveling at 65 mph can take as much as the length of a football field to come to a complete stop, so motorists should avoid driving too close or swerving past a big truck.
Large trucks also have more and larger blind spots than passenger vehicles. Drivers should avoid these blind spots, located at the front, rear and sides of trucks. If a motorist cannot see the truck driver in the side mirror of the truck, that driver also cannot see him or his vehicle.
To help keep everyone on the road safe, TxDOT asks motorists to allow plenty of clearance for trucks and to observe the following safety tips when driving around large trucks:
• Stay away from a truck’s “no go zones” or blind spot areas where collisions are more likely to occur. Prohibited areas include areas along each side of the truck, space up to 20 feet in front of the cab, and space up to 200 feet behind the trailer.
• Do not tailgate. Maintain a safe following distance. Make sure you can see the driver in the truck’s side mirror.
• Pass trucks safely by waiting to see both truck headlights in your rearview mirror before returning to your lane. Only pass a truck when it is legal and safe.
• Never cross behind a backing truck. The truck driver cannot see you and you may be hit.
• Don’t squeeze between a truck and the sidewalk. Trucks make wide right turns and the driver may not see you.
Drivers are especially at risk in Texas’ energy sectors. Oil and gas activity brings increased traffic and large trucks to producing areas and surrounding communities. TxDOT’s “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” offers these safety tips for motorists in high-energy zones:
• Obey the posted speed limit and adjust your driving according to road conditions.
• Concentrate 100% on driving and put your phone away: no talking or texting while driving.
• Give large trucks plenty of room. Be patient and only pass when it’s safe and legal to do so.
• Obey stop signs and traffic lights.
• Never drive under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
• Always fasten your seat belt – drivers and passengers, day and night.
In 2021, more than 79,000 traffic accidents occurred in the state’s five major energy producing areas – the Permian Basin, Eagle Ford Shales, Barnett Shales, Anadarko Basin and the Haynesville/Bossier shales – resulting in 1,119 fatalities, a 20% increase over the previous year. . Inability to control speed and driver inattention were the main reasons for accidents in these areas.
“Be careful. Drive smart. is a key part of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices behind the wheel, like wearing a seatbelt, sticking to the limit speeding, never texting and driving and never driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. November 7, 2000 was the last day without death on the roads of Texas. #EndTheStreakTX asks all Texans to pledge safe driving to help end the streak of daily deaths.