Some people assume that sideswipe accidents only cause minor damages and little to no physical injuries. But make no mistake. Sideswipes can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles, leading to serious injuries or death and a very negative impact on your company. Sideswipes, in fact, are the most common type of claim for commercial vehicles insured by Lancer.

Also known as “blind spot” crashes, sideswipes occur when two vehicles moving alongside each other collide. Sometimes they only involve one vehicle and an inanimate object (i.e., barrier, parked vehicle). These accidents frequently result from driver distraction or misjudgment on the part of a driver during lane changing, merging, passing, turning, or leaving or entering a parked position. Some sideswipes happen when a driver overreacts to a road hazard or an impending collision with another vehicle.

To reduce sideswipe crash involvement, remember these precautions:

• Make sure you understand your vehicle’s handling characteristics and turning radius, and are well aware of its blind spots. Know the vehicle’s weight (loaded and unloaded) and recognize that its dimensions require specialized driving skills. Consider driving an obstacle course yearly. A “tight quarters” skill course gives you an opportunity to practice.

• Properly adjust the driver’s seat, and clean and adjust all mirrors to minimize blind spots before heading out.

• Maintain a generous following distance and space cushion based on traffic conditions and your vehicle’s size, weight and stopping distance. Remember, other drivers are often unaware of the impact your vehicle’s size has on passing, staying centered in your lane, turning and stopping.

• Remain mindful of your main responsibility – driving. Watch for signs that other motorists are distracted and give distracted drivers a wide berth.

• Scan your mirrors often and stay alert for vehicles that may be moving into your blind spots.

• Avoid changing lanes unless truly necessary.

• Communicate your intentions to merge or change lanes well ahead of time and, before moving, glance briefly over your shoulder to spot other vehicles in your path.

• While passing, move completely into the left lane.

• After you pass, make sure the vehicle you just passed has the proper following distance behind you before you lane change back in front of it. Be sure to signal your intentions and cancel the signal after returning to the original lane.

• On entrance ramps, use the acceleration lane to adjust your speed to match openings in the traffic stream. Once there is sufficient space to safely merge, smoothly move into traffic.

• On exit ramps, enter the deceleration lane at its beginning so others don’t attempt to pass you on your right.

• Avoid tight quarters where and when you can and re-route to minimize backing.