There are few things as unnerving as glancing into your rearview mirror and seeing a large truck barreling down at you. The exception could perhaps be that rare situation where you find yourself driving in the middle lane between two commercial trucks on the highway.

Most drivers innately understand that driving too close to commercial vehicles could prove dangerous. You experience that feeling of nervousness because your brain recognizes the inherent risk of sharing the road with a very large vehicle. A fear response to commercial vehicles is common and the overall rate of collisions with commercial trucks has been on the rise in recent years.

There are probably several factors contributing to this increase. From a stronger consumer economy to higher demand for commercial drivers which has led to companies loosening their hiring requirements, quite a few complex factors influence the rate of truck crashes. While you may not be able to control how a company vets its staff, you can at least adjust how you drive in close proximity to commercial trucks.

Know the risk factors that contribute to fatal crashes

To minimize the risk you incur on the road, you have to have some degree of understanding about what contributes to that risk. Understanding the common causes for large commercial crashes can help you avoid obvious risk factors and thereby help yourself and your passengers stay safer on the road.

As with passenger vehicles, the majority of issues that lead to crashes with commercial vehicles relate to operator mistakes. Specifically, speeding in a commercial truck is a major source of risk, as is distracted driving, impaired driving and fatigued driving. Watch for any signs of a driver who isn’t paying attention to their job and the road.

Commercial truck drivers who work long hours may be too tired to safely drive. Even if they aren’t tired, they may spend some of their time texting their family members or possibly eating their meals at the wheel. Driver error is a major risk factor that increases the likelihood of you getting into a crash caused by a commercial driver.

Respect the limitations of larger vehicles

Commercial vehicle collisions also result from mistakes made by the drivers of passenger vehicles. A failure to respect the commercial vehicle is a common problem. Essentially, drivers should remain aware of the increased difficulty involved in maneuvering a large truck. Respecting those limits can help you avoid serious mistakes.

Big trucks take longer to stop or slow, which means you should be very careful when driving in front of a commercial truck, especially when you merge. Leaving extra space between the rear of your vehicle and the front of the truck can reduce your overall collision risk. Similarly, giving commercial vehicles extra space in the rear and around both sides will help you avoid driving in the dangerous blind spots around commercial trucks.