When passenger vehicles and large commercial semi-truck s collide on Virginia’s interstates and highways, the smaller, lighter vehicles are no match for the sheer weight and size of the big rig behemoths. The results can be both gruesome and tragic for occupants of the smaller cars and light trucks.

Considering that most semi-truck s weigh well over 10,000 pounds when empty, and that a fully loaded commercial semi-truck with a trailer can max out at 80,000 lbs., it’s no wonder that the highway carnage can be so great when accidents occur.

Part of the danger involves the much greater distance a big rig needs to decelerate and stop in an emergency. For instance, a car going 55 miles per hour should be able to stop within approximately 130 to 140 feet if the brakes are not defective. Alternatively, large trucks going the same speed might take as far as 400 feet to come to a stop. Trucks carrying heavy loads require the most distance to stop.

These big rigs have “no zones” where accidents typically occur because they are blind spots where the trucker is unable to see the passenger cars. These notoriously dangerous blind spots are located right in back and front of the trucks and at angles on their right and left sides. Passenger vehicles should spend as little time as possible in these zones.

A good way for drivers of passenger cars and trucks to ensure they aren’t in the “no zone” is to check and see if they are able to spot the trucker in the rig’s side mirrors. If not, they’re in danger.

Don’t ever pass big trucks on the right, where the blind spot is most extensive. If the truck driver decides to change lanes, the driver can inadvertently cut off a smaller vehicle when merging, forcing them into another lane of traffic or off the road entirely.

While there is nothing good about getting into a wreck with a large truck, most commercial truckers carry better than adequate insurance coverage to shield them from personal liability in collisions. Filing a claim for damages is the first step in recovering any financial compensation for your injuries and other losses.

Source: Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, “Motor Carrier Safety,” accessed Sep. 16, 2016