Thousands of 18-wheelers pass through Chicagoland every day. Most of these vehicles have uneventful trips, but some of them cause crashes. In 2020, the most recent year with a Department of Transportation analysis available, there were 9,296 crashes in Illinois that involved a tractor-trailer or semi-truck. 105 of those wrecks resulted in at least one person dying.
There were 237 crashes where people suffered injuries so severe they could not leave without help, and another 1,636 wrecks left people hurt. Almost all of them caused property damage expenses. With the summer months approaching and people preparing for vacation road trips and heavier warm weather traffic, it may be a good time to review the best practices for safety around large commercial trucks in traffic in Illinois.
1. Give plenty of space and account for glare
Big commercial trucks are dangerous to smaller vehicles in part because the drivers in semi-trucks have a hard time seeing nearby passenger vehicles. The large blind spots around a commercial truck make it easier for its driver to overlook other vehicles nearby in traffic.
The bright glare possible during the sunniest days of summer may only exacerbate the visibility issues that can lead to crashes caused by commercial trucks. Giving them more space by avoiding traveling directly next to either side of their trailer is a worthwhile habit to develop.
2. Be especially cautious about merging
A semi-truck takes much longer to speed up or slow down than the average vehicle, which means that they can’t respond as quickly to changing traffic conditions. Anyone merging in front of a semi-truck will typically want to give twice as much space between the rear of their vehicle and the front of the truck when compared with the standard traffic merge.
3. Pay extra attention at intersections
There are two ways for Illinois motorists to reduce their risk of a crash with a commercial truck at an intersection. One involves being cautious during the approach to the intersection, as they might get too close to where a truck needs to turn and put themselves at risk of getting clipped.
The other is involves waiting an extra second before proceeding through an intersection to see what bigger vehicles across the intersection will do. Pausing for half a second can sometimes be the difference between narrowly avoiding a crash and a life-altering wreck.
Identifying and avoiding risk factors for semi-truck crashes can help keep Illinois motorists safer on the roads this summer.