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White big rig approaches the camera on the highway

Commercial trucks are certainly large and imposing. Every driver knows to give them plenty of space to avoid a truck accident. But does that mean that trucks always have the right-of-way?

Just like any other vehicle on the road, big rigs and semi-trucks have the right-of-way when it is given to them based on traffic conditions and road rules. They need to share the road safely with everyone else. They do not always have the right-of-way just because they are larger, heavier, and more difficult to control than when compared to the average passenger vehicle. If a truck driver hits you and insists that they had the right-of-way even though you know they didn’t, then they probably have misunderstood their driving privilege – and you should probably speak to a truck accident attorney.

When Yielding the Right-of-Way Works

The thing about the right-of-way that many people don’t realize is that it isn’t rigid. It is a flexible road rule that promotes awareness, safety, responsibility, and defensive driving. With this in mind, there will be times when you should yield the right-of-way to a semi-truck even though the trucker doesn’t have it under normal circumstances. After all, what do you stand to gain if you don’t yield your right-of-way but get hit by a negligent truck driver?

You should be prepared to yield the right-of-way to a truck driver when:

  • You are attempting to pass the truck. There are huge blind spots on all sides of a truck, but the smallest one is on the driver’s side. Pass only on the left and do so as quickly as you can without driving dangerously. You should only try to pass once you have confirmed that the trucker has seen you and be ready to yield and resume your previous position if the truck has to suddenly enter your lane.
  • Road conditions are slippery or windy. Even experienced truck drivers will have a difficult time controlling their vehicles in heavy winds, rain, snow, or sleet. It is important to give big rigs plenty of space in inclement weather and be ready to maneuver or yield the right-of-way whenever it becomes necessary to avoid a truck accident. In your smaller vehicle, you will have an easier time navigating the weather, so your choices and actions will be more effective at stopping a crash than those of the truck driver.
  • The truck driver is trying to turn. You should not idle to the side of a truck that is attempting to turn in either direction. Semi-trucks are notorious for their wide turns that can sweep the trailer into adjacent lanes. If you see a truck with its turn signal on at an intersection, then let them begin and complete the turn before advancing to the intersection yourself, even if this means you have to yield your right-of-way.

Why Right-of-Way Matters

When determining liability after a truck accident, the right-of-way that the driver and trucker had at the time can make a big difference in the case’s outcome and the damages that the claimant can pursue. If a truck hit you when it absolutely did not have the right-of-way, then you might have a strong claim. On the other hand, if you had the right-of-way, could have yielded it to avoid the crash, but did not, then your claim’s validity could be weakened.

Drivers in Colorado Springs, Parker, and Pueblo, Colorado can come to Clawson & Clawson, LLP for legal assistance with truck accident cases, especially those involving complex liability and right-of-way questions. Contact us now to learn more about our legal services and your options.