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All drivers must carefully follow traffic laws and adhere to road rules that help keep them and others safe. But when on the road with large commercial trucks, it pays to practice extra caution. Semi-trucks pose a particular danger to other vehicles on the road for a number of reasons beyond their immense size and weight, which dwarfs common family vehicles on the roadways, giving other vehicles a distinct disadvantage in an accident. Trucks also have large blind spots, longer stopping times, reduced maneuverability, and sometimes unwieldy or improperly balanced loads.
If you’re on the road and driving around semi-trucks, you can help protect yourself and your loved ones by practicing safe driving tips for sharing the road with trucks.
A semi-truck has significantly larger blind spots than a passenger vehicle. Because the tall trailer behind them would block the driver’s view, a truck cab does not have a windshield rearview mirror. Despite the truck’s large side mirrors, the length of the trailer and the height of the cab leaves large areas of limited visibility on both sides of the truck. Avoid driving in a truck’s blind spots through the following measures:
Avoiding driving in a truck’s blind spots is a good, common-sense precaution to avoid a collision when a truck changes lanes.
A truck has a significantly longer stopping time than a passenger vehicle. Trucks need extra space when turning, often occupying two or more lanes. They also take longer to brake to a stop. Be sure to leave extra space when following a truck or when merging back into a lane in front of a truck and allow plenty of space for the truck to make a turn or change lanes.
Truck drivers in the United States sit on the left side of the vehicle, meaning their view is better on that side. Always pass a truck on the left side and never on the right. Passing on the right leaves your vehicle in a truck’s blind spot for longer periods than passing on the left. Also, if a truck attempts to make a right turn without seeing your car it leaves your vehicle trapped on the right between the truck and the curb.
If you drive too closely behind a semi-truck, not only are you in the driver’s blind spot but the large, looming size of the truck also leaves you blind to what’s happening in front of the truck. This means the truck may suddenly brake for an obstacle that you can’t see and aren’t prepared for. If a commercial truck suddenly applies its brakes it can leave your vehicle vulnerable to causing a rear-end collision.
Stay far enough behind a truck that you can see both of its rearview mirrors. Leave even greater distances during bad weather.
Because of the large, bulky size of a truck, it may appear to be moving at a slower speed than it actually is. For this reason, some truck accidents occur at intersections when drivers pull out in front of a truck, assuming they have plenty of time. The combination of optical illusion making a truck appear slower moving and a truck’s longer stopping time can be a deadly combination at intersections or during merging.
By practicing extra precautions, we can safely share the roadways with the trucks that deliver our much-needed goods and services.