If you live in or travel through Southeast New Mexico, you probably share the road with Permian Basin traffic on a regular basis. This busy oil and gas region is seeing an increase in drilling and fracking, which means more heavy truck traffic going into and coming out of the region. Towns like Carlsbad and Artesia have seen more oil tankers, sand haulers, and equipment transports rolling through the area.
While these truckers have a duty to drive safely, often, your and your passengers’ safety is in your own hands. We offer tips for defensive driving in the area and explain your rights if you are injured in a crash with a Permian Basin truck despite your efforts.
Awareness of the Dangers Is the Best Place to Start
There is often an assumption among motorists that truckers are experts behind the wheel and have the skill to avoid accidents. While it’s true that many truck drivers have years of experience and have learned to anticipate dangers to avoid crashes, you can’t be sure that the trucker next to you is one of those veteran drivers. In fact, you can’t even be sure that the driver is alert, sober, and attentive to the road.
When driving near semi-trucks or other large commercial vehicles, you should always take the following precautions:
- Keep your distance. Semi-trucks cannot stop quickly, and they can be blown around by strong winds, so you should never drive next to them or at a short distance in front of them for longer than is absolutely necessary. Also, tire blowouts are common in big rigs, especially in high desert temperatures. The farther away you are from tire debris, the better.
- Avoid blind spots. Large vehicles have big “no-zones” or blind spots that should be avoided. Truckers cannot see vehicles that are in the perimeter around their cab and trailer. The area to the right of the driver is a particularly large blind spot. This means that if you are driving in the lane to the right of a truck, the driver probably has no idea you are there.
- Pass safely. Cars are usually traveling at higher speeds than semi-trucks, so passing is often necessary. However, you should do so only on the left, quickly, and as far over to the left shoulder as possible. If you are driving too slowly in the left lane and a truck comes up quickly behind you, signal and move over to the right as soon as it’s clear to do so.
- Use your signals. Truckers need more time to react to the actions of other drivers, so it is important for your own safety that you use your turn signal for at least three seconds before turning or merging in front of a truck and tap your brakes before reducing your speed if a trucker is behind you and traffic is slowing down.
- Allow plenty of room for lane changes. Never cut a semi-truck off by making a tight merge. Make sure you can see the entire front end of the tuck in your rear-view mirror before merging in front of it.
- Assume the trucker is unaware. If you drive around trucks with the assumption that you are invisible to them, you could avoid some of the common causes of crashes that injure motorists every day. Drive defensively and use caution.
We offer these tips because your safety is of utmost importance. However, if you don’t follow these suggestions and you are injured or a loved one is killed in a semi-truck crash, that doesn’t mean you are responsible for the crash. If the truck driver’s negligence caused the collision, then the driver—and possibly also their employer—should be held liable for the damage they caused.
Possible Damages Awarded After a New Mexico Truck Crash
The purpose of a personal injury claim is for an experienced attorney to help you get back what you have lost because of the accident, which usually means reimbursing financial losses. In New Mexico, you can be compensated for the following losses:
- Medical treatment. This includes emergency department care, hospital stays, surgeries, tests and scans, doctor visits, specialist visits, medications, and more.
- Lost wages. If you are unable to work because of the injuries you have suffered, you can also make a claim to recover your lost wages.
- Ongoing expenses. If you have sustained long-term injuries or have a permanent disability because of the crash, you might need years of medical care and rehabilitation, as well as other costs. These costs can be factored into your compensation.
- Non-economic losses. While money cannot relieve your trauma or take away your chronic pain, you might be entitled to pain and suffering damages. A skilled lawyer will write a demand letter that spells out your losses.