How To Safely Share the Road With Big Trucks


Each year, countless crashes involving 18-wheelers and passenger cars occur in Albuquerque and in other parts of New Mexico that shouldn’t have ever happened. They might not have occurred had passenger car operators known how to safely share the road with big trucks and had tractor-trailer operators properly exercised the duty of care they owe other drivers.

Below are some tips to follow when sharing the road with truckers so you can avoid facing the same fate. Here’s a roundup of some best practices to follow when navigating roadways in Be County and beyond.

Be Cautious When Passing Tractor-Trailers

You may have heard of always passing on the left of big rigs. You may have wondered what the reason is for recommending this. It comes down to making yourself visible as a much smaller vehicle in the trucker’s driver’s side mirror.

If you’ve also seen a bumper sticker on trucks that says something about if you can’t see the mirrors, then the driver cannot see you; that warning is there because if you fall into one of these no-zones, they cannot see you.

Whether passing a truck on the right or lingering too long in its blind spots, such actions can cause a driver to forget you’re there, thus leading to a sideswipe crash or them pulling in tight ahead of you, causing you to rear-end them.

Being Mindful of Turning Trucks at Intersections

One of the most common ways 18-wheelers collide with passenger cars is when navigating turns at intersections. Either a motorist comes up on the truck’s right side to make a turn alongside the wide-turning truck, or they approach on the left side and attempt to go at the same time. In all these scenarios, a crash can result.

The collisions that occur in the midst of tractor-trailer operators making right turns occur because the passenger car doesn’t anticipate the front of the big rig swinging right and approximating the curb and phone pole (where they’re at), thus cutting off their path forward when they do. And, in terms of left turns, while they’re not as tight as right ones, there still tends to be some “fishtailing” whereby the truck may navigate outside their lane or waive a bit to ensure they ultimately end up in the right lane.

Accidents can occur in the midst of this process.

So, given the two scenarios above, it can be best, if you’re driving alongside a trucker, to just keep back if it appears that they’re preparing to turn. By doing so, you’ll minimize their chances of colliding into you.

Be Careful Not To Suddenly Brake Ahead of Trucks

Many car drivers don’t think twice about cutting in tight in front of one another as they are confident that the other motorist can “stop on a dime” or take evasive action, if necessary, to avoid becoming entangled in a crash with them. Doing this is much more challenging for truckers.

First of all, trucks take as much as the length of two football fields to reach a full stop, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The weight of their cargo, speed, road conditions, integrity of their brakes, and other factors can impact how long stopping takes, though.

Thus, cutting in close ahead of a truck often results in a crash as they cannot brake in enough time to avoid it, so it’s best never to do this.

Increase Your Visibility

Many truckers, especially long-haul ones, drive long distances and hours every day. Their eyes and bodies easily become fatigued after a long day’s worth of work. On top of that, your vehicle is low-lying.

Turning on your headlights at dawn and dusk and in inclement weather situations, such as when there’s fog, rain, snow, etc. can be helpful to ensure they can see you. However, it’s critical that you don’t turn on your high beams.


If you’ve ever driven beyond your limits and encountered a driver with their high beams on, those headlights can be particularly piercing to one’s eyes. They can make it hard to gauge location and distance and cause disorientation, all of which can lead to avoidable crashes.

Place Your Entire Focus on the Road

It can be easy to get distracted by a conversation with someone in your car, the radio, or for you to take a chance and text and drive while operating your vehicle, but these are dangerous activities for you (and truckers) to engage in when sharing the road with each other.

Your focus (both visual and mental) needs to be on the road and your hands on the wheel to minimize your chances of having a preventable wreck.

Approaching Intersections Carefully

Earlier, we mentioned how important it is to be cognizant of turning trucks at intersections. However, as with any crossroads, it’s important to always exercise caution when approaching an intersection with a 4-way stop or traffic signals, especially if you see a big truck approaching it.

Doing so can reduce your chances of becoming involved in a T-bone or underride accident if a tractor-trailer’s brakes fail or they don’t yield to your right of way as they should. Only go once you see that they are indeed slowing down or have fully stopped out of an abundance of caution.

What To Do If You’re Hurt in a Truck Accident

Getting to safety, calling the police to report the collision, preserving any evidence you can at the crash site, and getting immediate medical attention should all be at the top of your list in terms of things to do right after you are involved in an accident with a large truck.

If doctors inform you that you’ve suffered severe injuries or you have learned that your loved one did not survive a crash like this, you’ll want to make contacting a truck accident attorney your next priority. Why? They can assist you in learning about your right to hold a trucker and any other responsible parties liable for what happened to you or your family member.

Here at Barrera Law Group LLC, our attorneys have long represented clients in Albuquerque and elsewhere in New Mexico who’ve suffered debilitating injuries and lost close relatives to preventable tractor-trailer crashes.

Our truck accident lawyers want to also be there for you to help if you need our assistance. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your potential case.