Driving on a highway or a city street near a tractor-trailer requires that special care be taken to avoid an accident. While a car can be totaled and its passengers injured in any type of accident, a collision with a semi-truck can be exceptionally devastating. Of course, truck drivers and their vehicles may cause 18 wheeler accidents even when all of the risks have been minimized. Because of this, anyone involved in a truck accident is recommended to call an 18 wheeler accident attorney to sort out who is at fault and to determine whether compensation for damages is due. The Physics of Braking an 18 Wheeler While air brakes are very helpful for stopping big rigs, they do not overcome the momentum behind such massive vehicles, especially when they are moving at highway speeds. Every experienced truck accident lawyer knows that an average tractor-trailer moving at 55 mph on a flat, dry road will still travel over 100 yards after the brakes are fully applied. This is much greater than the stopping distance of a passenger car, and if the car swerves in front of a semi-truck or abruptly brakes, the truck driver may not be able to stop in time to avoid an accident. Tire Blowouts When the tire of a big rig becomes compromised, the effects can be extremely dangerous. This is one of the reasons why it is not a good idea to follow a truck too closely. A semi tire can break into several pieces when it goes flat, and those pieces are often launched dozens of feet into the air behind the truck. Even a small slab of rubber breaking off a tire can travel at a velocity high enough to go right through a car's windshield. When a blowout occurs, many drivers swerve in an attempt to avoid the flying tire fragments. This maneuver often causes the driver to collide with other vehicles or objects unrelated to the truck or to completely lose control of their car. The only way to avoid this type of accident is to leave an acceptable distance between the car and any trucks being followed. Low Visibility The drivers of tractor-trailers and the drivers of the vehicles around them all can suffer from low visibility. Someone in a passenger car behind a semi-truck cannot see what is occurring in front of the truck or the front sides of the truck. If the driver of a car following a truck has slow reflexes, then they may not be able to stop quickly enough should the truck unexpectedly brake without warning. Truck drivers suffer from several blind spots, and mirrors do not always fully compensate for them. Motorists must always be aware of these blind spots and avoid staying in them for any length of time. Even if a truck driver sees a car approach from behind, they can easily forget that it is there if it cannot be seen in the mirrors. Practice Good Driving Habits The following rules should always be followed to minimize the risk of 18 wheeler accidents: • Keep a safe distance from semi-trucks. • Pass trucks quickly yet safely. • Beware of trucks as they are turning due to the wide turning radius that they require. Avoid Bad Driving Habits These actions should be avoided at all costs when driving near semi-trucks: • Tailgating • Staying in blind spots • Passing trucks as they are turning Call for Help If the unthinkable should occur, do not be too quick to take the blame. Only experienced truck accident attorneys are qualified to determine who is at fault. Scheduling a free consultation with an accident attorney as soon after the accident as possible will help victims receive the compensation they deserve.