Safety Tips for Sharing the Road with Trucks on California’s I-5

by Staff Blogger | September 11th, 2023

California’s Interstate 5 (I-5) is a vital artery in the state’s transportation network, facilitating the movement of goods and people across vast distances. As one of the nation’s busiest and most crucial transportation routes, I-5 plays a key role in supporting economic growth and connecting communities.

However, the volume of commercial truck traffic on this major highway makes it one of the most dangerous roads in the country. Between 2015 and 2019, 584 people died in 544 fatal crashes on I-5.

If you are involved in an accident with a semi on I-5, contact a California truck accident attorney to help protect your rights and maximize your compensation.

Safety Tips for Navigating I-5

Navigating this busy highway confidently and safely fosters a safer coexistence with the large commercial trucks that are a common sight on this route. To help you avoid an accident, use these safety tips: 

  • Maintaining a Safe Following Distance

Maintaining a safe following distance is key to safe driving, especially when sharing the road with large commercial vehicles. Due to their size and weight, these trucks require more distance to slow down or stop. During inclement weather or when visibility is compromised, such as during heavy rain or fog, increase your following distance even further to ensure a safe buffer zone.

  • Being Mindful of Truck Blind Spots

Navigating the roads alongside large commercial vehicles requires an extra level of caution, particularly when it comes to understanding and respecting a truck’s blind spots. These are the areas around a truck where your vehicle is invisible to the truck driver due to the size and position of the truck’s mirrors.

Truck’s blind spots, often called “no-zones,” are typically located directly in front of the truck, behind it, and along both sides, especially on the right. The larger the truck, the larger these blind spots typically are. In some cases, the driver may be unable to see for 20 feet in front of the cab, 30 feet behind the trailer, and along one or two lanes to the sides.

Always make a conscious effort to stay visible to the truck driver and avoid lingering in these danger zones. If you cannot see the truck’s side mirrors, assume the driver cannot see you either.

When passing a truck, do so quickly and safely on the left side. Ensure you have the full front of the truck in your rearview mirror before you merge back into the lane.

  • Safe Maneuvering during Truck Merges and Lane Changes

California can be challenging to drive in because of traffic, causing drivers to be more aggressive, especially in the morning or after work.

Merging onto a highway or changing lanes near large trucks can be particularly challenging due to these vehicles’ size and limited maneuverability. Trucks have reduced visibility and require more space and time to adjust their course. Being cautious and vigilant in these situations is key to ensuring safety on the road.

When a truck is merging or changing lanes, give it ample space. Don’t try to speed up and pass the truck during these maneuvers. Instead, slow down and let the truck complete its move.

This is especially important when you’re merging onto a highway and you see a truck in the lane you’re entering. Trucks cannot slow down or change lanes as quickly as smaller vehicles, so you should adjust your speed or stop if necessary to give the truck the space it needs.

Also, be mindful of the truck’s turning radius. Trucks often need to make wide turns, especially to the right. If you see a truck indicating a right turn, don’t try to squeeze by on the right side. You may end up in a blind spot and be at risk of a “squeeze play” collision as the truck moves right to complete its turn.

  • Use Clear Communication and Turn Signals

Clear communication is essential to road safety, especially when sharing the road with large commercial trucks. The signals you send to other drivers, particularly those piloting larger vehicles, can mean the difference between a safe journey and a disastrous encounter.

One of the most effective ways to communicate your intentions on the road is by using your turn signals. Turn signals are a universal language of the road, informing other drivers about your intent to make a move.

When you plan to change lanes or turn, activating your turn signal well in advance allows other drivers, including truck drivers, enough time to anticipate your move and respond accordingly. Trucks require a longer distance to slow down or stop; a sudden, unexpected lane change can lead to dangerous situations.

  • Practicing Patience and Giving Trucks Sufficient Space

Driving on highways often involves sharing the road with large commercial trucks, and successfully coexisting with these behemoths requires patience and an understanding of their unique operational demands. These are not ordinary vehicles; they have a larger footprint, slower acceleration, longer stopping distances, and expansive blind spots that affect their maneuverability.

Practicing patience when you’re driving near trucks is not only a courtesy but also a necessary safety measure. Due to their weight and size, trucks cannot maneuver or change speeds as quickly as smaller vehicles. When traffic conditions change suddenly, a truck’s reaction might seem delayed compared to a passenger vehicle.

Keeping this in mind, avoid quick lane changes or other sudden movements that could surprise a truck driver and not give them adequate time to respond.

Get the Help You Need

Navigating California’s busy I-5 alongside large commercial trucks demands a commitment to road safety. By following the essential safety tips, you can coexist safely with these formidable vehicles, reducing the risk of accidents and fostering a culture of responsibility on our highways.

Don’t let the aftermath of an accident overwhelm you. If you were injured in a truck crash on I-5 or another California roadway, Berg Injury Lawyers can help you understand your legal rights and file a compensation claim. Contact our team today for a free consultation, and let us put our experience to work for you.