Large truck crashes led to 3,986 deaths in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. This represents a 27 percent jump from 2009, and the upward trend appears to be continuing. One expert from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance states that passenger vehicle drivers are to blame for at least 70 percent of all collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles. For this reason, drivers in California should consider the following safety tips when sharing the road with trucks.

First, it’s important to maintain a safe distance from trucks; over 500 feet is good, but it will depend on speed. Drivers should also avoid engaging in distracting activities. Smartphones especially should be out of sight and out of mind. This is because drivers must be attentive to the trucker’s movements. Drifting in and out of a lane could indicate a drowsy or distracted trucker.

If drivers can look ahead of the truck, they should do so for at least one-fourth to one-half of a mile. They can take preemptive action when they see brake lights or emergency flashers in the distance. It’s also important to look out for road debris, rough stretches, oil spills and other obstructions.

Rain, snow and fog require that a driver slow down and increase their distance from a big rig. If it’s raining or snowing heavily, drivers could pull over and wait for a letup.

Truck accidents can leave passenger vehicle occupants with catastrophic injuries and the prospect of long-term medical care. Victims could lose their jobs and suffer a diminished capacity to earn a living. However, all of these damages and more could be covered if a personal injury claim is successful. A lawyer experienced in personal injury law could negotiate on a victim’s behalf.