Country star Miranda Lambert and her husband, Brendan McLoughlin, were involved in a hit-and-run accident in Atlanta on February 6th as they headed back to Nashville.
The 37-year-old country star explained that the couple was on I-20 W when a small sedan driving erratically tried to squeeze between her car and a tractor-trailer.
Lambert said that the out-of-control sedan hit the Airstream camper she and her husband were towing and sent her vehicle into the left lane and into a fishtail. The racing sedan didn’t stop.
Lambert said that no one was hurt in the accident.
What’s a “Slipstream”?
An Airstream is a type of caravan camper, and while Lambert encountered a crash with her Airstream, many semi crashes occur in a semi’s “slipstream.”
The slipstream is an area of reduced air pressure and forward suction right behind a fast-moving big rig.
A tractor-trailer’s slipstream can pull a car like a tow truck. This phenomenon sounds pretty cool, but to experience it, a sedan has to be extremely close to the truck, about six to eight feet from the rear end—which isn’t safe. That’s because when a car gets into a semi’s slipstream, it will be pushed from side to side, making it extremely difficult to maintain control and causing accidents.
The change in air pressure is caused when a semi and its trailer slice through the air and push it aside. The air travels down the sides of the truck and comes back together again at the rear of the trailer. This creates a bubble of still air right behind the trailer. Where the two streams of air from the sides of the vehicle join back together behind the semi, they curve into one, going frontwards a bit. That’s the push that can cause a car to swerve dangerously close to other traffic, and even rear-end the semi.
If a car is tailgating only six feet or so behind the semi, it puts all the vehicles around the semi in a dangerous position. However, some car drivers like to sit in that slipstream or, similar to the erratic driver Miranda Lambert encountered, try to “thread the needle” and squeeze through a tight space behind a truck—not knowing that the slipstream will cause their car to swerve erratically.
It’s Dangerous but Is It Illegal?
Yes. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-49(a) states that “[t]he driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.”
It’s not reasonable and prudent to follow a semi so closely. The semi driver can’t see the car right behind his or her trailer, and the car can’t see anything other than the trucking company’s logo and the rear underride guards or rear impact guards—the safety feature designed to prevent vehicles from sliding underneath a trailer in a rear-end collision. If the semi stops suddenly, the car will slam into those guards.
What are Some Safe Driving Tips Around Semis?
You can help stay safe when traveling in and around semis by remembering these things:
- Stay out of blind spots. A truck driver has a large blind spot directly behind the trailer. Mirrors can’t help see right behind the truck in the slipstream, so stay back. And remember: if you can’t see the driver in their side mirrors, they can’t see you.
- Pass on the Left. Every multiple lane road is designed to have slower traffic in the far-right lane with the lanes on the left for passing. It’s the safest way to pass all traffic, but especially big trucks.
- Merge the right way. After you’ve passed a semi, leave plenty of room to merge back in front of it. Again, there’s a blind spot directly in front of the truck because the driver is too high to see if you merge only a few feet ahead of the cab. Semis need a lot more distance to stop than a car, and cutting in front of a truck may not give them enough time or space to stop safely. Make sure you can see the entire front end of the truck before pulling back into the lane in front of it.
Driving on Georgia’s roads and highways need not be a dangerous undertaking. Keep these passing rules in mind to help traffic flowing smoothly and safely, especially when encountering tractor-trailers.
Contact An Experienced Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney
If you’ve been injured in an accident with a truck, work with an experienced Atlanta truck accident attorney Atlanta residents trust. Contact our team at Tobin Injury Law, and we’ll get to work. With our experience and skills, we know what it takes to win.
You can contact an experienced Atlanta truck accident lawyer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 404-JUSTICE (404-587-8423) or by using our online contact form.
Our law firm offers free consultation. We will be glad to answer your questions.