Earlier last week, in South Portland, a truck accident involving an SUV, an overturned tractor-trailer, and 80,000 pounds of mulch held up traffic on the Maine turnpike for over four hours. For many people trying to get home from work, it was an unfortunate reminder that truck accidents affect many more people than just those involved in the accident.

With over 70 percent of fatalities in truck accidents happening to passengers in the smaller vehicle, you want to be especially cautious while driving near trucks. At Lowry & Associates, we have compiled a short list of ways you can minimize the risk of a truck accident.

Stay Out of the Truck's Blind Spots

The areas directly behind and beside the truck are "blind spots," where truck drivers have a hard time seeing vehicles. It's a good idea to pass trucks as quickly as possible and stay out of the area directly behind them, not only because they can't see you, but also because any equipment failure on the truck is more likely to affect you in those positions.

Keep a Safe Distance from Trucks

On a related note, you want to make sure not to follow trucks too closely. This can be difficult, especially on a highway where the truck is moving slower than the surrounding traffic, but remember that the loads on trucks occasionally become unsecured and can fall off the back.

Don't Try to Squeeze in Front of a Truck in Traffic

Because of their size, trucks take much longer to come to a full stop than the average car. If you try to dart in front of a truck during a sudden slowdown in traffic, the truck may not be able to stop quickly enough to keep from crashing into you.

Obey the Rules of the Road

This seems like a no-brainer, but the sad truth is that many fatal accidents involving trucks occur when drivers are speeding, changing lanes without a signal, following too closely, or breaking some other traffic law.

Pay Attention to the Weather

In inclement weather, the road visibility and stopping distance of all vehicles on the road will be negatively impacted, and often worse for trucks. If you are constantly aware of your surroundings, you may be able to avoid a truck whose driver is not quite so aware.

Even if you follow all these tips, there's a chance you will get into a truck crash caused by the truck or its driver. However, following these tips minimizes your risk, and helps ensure that any legal claim you bring against the trucking company will be successful.

If you or a loved one has been in an accident with a truck or tractor-trailer, contact the Maine truck accident lawyers at Lowry & Associates by calling 1-800 999-5342. We offer a free consultation, and serve clients in Bangor, Portland and throughout the state of Maine.