Being on the road with lots of big rigs can be intimidating for drivers of passenger vehicles and motorcycles. After all, getting into a crash with a big truck can increase the resulting damage exponentially. Because semis are so heavy, the force with which they can slam into a car is much greater than that of a sedan. Another reason to be wary is that the loads trucks carry can come loose and add to the damage; some are also flammable.

Keep your distance

You are probably already aware of the risks of tailgating another car. If you are behind a semi, however, the distance you keep will need to be greater than typical. If the truck begins to turn or switch lanes, you may not notice immediately from your position behind it, while the truck’s length decreases its stability as it turns. Rear-ending a truck can be especially disastrous, as many such collisions result in the car sliding underneath the truck. While some trucks have been fitted with guardrails to prevent this, they may not always work.

Watch for blind spots

If you are driving in a parallel lane or are trying to pass a truck, you need to be aware of the driver’s blind spots. While a motorist operating a sedan generally has a good view of cars coming up behind and on the sides, the size of an 18-wheeler makes it impossible for its driver to view certain zones. Glance over to the truck and see if you are able to view the driver’s face in the truck’s side mirror. If you cannot, the driver is most likely unable to see you as well and you need to proceed with extreme caution.

Be aware of conditions that can increase risk

Wet or icy conditions can aggravate the hazards semis present as they decrease stability even further. If the road is full of snow, water or mud, a big truck will create huge splashes. If you drive too close, a splash from a truck’s wheels can cover your windshield or mirrors.

In addition to keeping your distance and being aware of blind spots, watch out for signs of erratic driving. Many truck drivers are extremely sleep-deprived, increasing the likelihood of errors. If a truck is showing random patterns of slowing and speeding up, drifting out of its lane or trying to weave in and out of traffic, you want to put as much distance as possible between yourself and that truck.

Collisions can happen even if you take every precaution. If you are involved in a crash with a truck, you will want to get your medical bills and other expenses covered as soon as possible. Speak with a qualified lawyer near you to learn about your options for financial and medical recovery.