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3 tips to help you stay safe around trucks

If you're like most drivers in the Penn State area, you have probably shared the road with a large commercial truck. Whether you are driving in the city or on a cross-country journey, it is inevitable to find yourself passing, being passed by or following a semitruck. You may have even had a close call with one or two in your time behind the wheel.

In general, semitrucks are much different than passenger cars. They handle differently, they are slower to speed up and slow down and even sudden gusts of wind pose a threat to the trucker and other people on the road. While there is no sure way to avoid sharing the road with a semi, there are a few things you can do to stay safe.

Be extra cautious

When you are driving near a semi, there is no such thing as too much caution. Keep your distance, pass as safely and quickly as possible, and avoid cutting in front of one. Since trucks can't react as quickly as passenger vehicles, it is important to keep your distance and use your signals. In addition, you should watch the other passenger vehicles closely. If one makes a bad move, it could cause a chain reaction involving the semi.

Make yourself seen

One of the most dangerous things about semis is the size of the blind spots. Many trucks even have stickers that warn drivers to keep back and avoid these "no-zones." If you are traveling behind a semi, you should generally stay far enough back so that you can see the side mirrors of the truck. Also, avoid riding at the side of a truck for too long. If the driver makes a sudden move, you might find yourself in a bad situation.

Remember roadside safety techniques

If you need to pull over on the side of the road and you are in an area that trucks frequently use, try to get completely off the road instead of just on the shoulder. Not only can this help you avoid being hit by another passenger vehicle, it could also limit the chances of being clipped by a semi.

However, if it is not safe to completely pull off the road, be sure to do everything possible to make you and your car more visible. Turn on your hazards, light a flare if you have one and if you have reflective tape in your roadside emergency kit, consider putting a few pieces across your clothes.

While the above tips can help you stay safe when you are sharing the road with a semitruck, accidents -- obviously and tragically -- happen. This is especially true if there is recklessness or negligence involved. If you have been the victim of a truck accident, you might be able to file a claim for your injuries and other damages you suffered as a result of the wreck.

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