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Double and triple trailers on semis: What are the risks?

You may be hesitant to drive near a semitruck that has two or even three trailers on it. According to the Georgia Commercial Drivers Manual, your fears of a truck crash may not be unfounded. Although trucking companies are legally able to deploy these vehicles across the state, there are many factors that make them more dangerous than their single-trailer counterparts.

Before beginning each day’s drive, truckers are supposed to do a thorough maintenance check of their trucks to minimize the risk of a malfunction while sharing the road with you. With the extra tires, axles, connections and other components, it may be easier for an operator to miss something that could lead to a crash.

While any tractor trailer may jackknife or roll over, doubles and triples are even more at risk. For example, if a trucker makes a quick lane change near you, it may set the back trailer swaying. This can cause it to swing around sideways into the next trailer, or it may roll, blocking your path or knocking you off the road. The same problem may occur when the truck is going around a corner or curve in the road, if the trucker does not slow down enough.

The instability caused by the second and third trailers means the truck operator must allow a much greater following distance between his vehicle and yours so that there is plenty of time to stop in a traffic situation. This should be even longer in wet or slick weather conditions, or in mountainous regions. 

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