Share the Road: How to Drive Safely Around Big Trucks

Posted on by Defensive Driving | in Defensive Driving Tips, Driving and Safety Tips, Helping You Drive Safely

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There are almost 4,000 crashes each year that involve large trucks. A worrying statistic to be sure, but how many of these are preventable? Truck drivers spend more time on the road than anyone else, and they are a constant fixture on the freeways of America, but sometimes other drivers can be guilty of forgetting to pay them the careful attention that they warrant. Rather than viewing them as a nuisance or an obstacle to veer around, the average driver should educate themselves on the special practices that they should follow when driving close to large vehicles. Here are some of the most useful tips and common mistakes to avoid when driving near semis.

1. Never Cut Off a Truck

Large vehicles must often drive slower than other traffic on the road, and so it is only natural that you would want to overtake one as soon as you can. And while this is of course acceptable, you cannot overtake a truck in the same way in which you would overtake a regular car. Trucks have worse visibility and are slower at breaking, which means that if you cut immediately in front of them you are putting both you and the truck in a dangerous position. A good rule of thumb is to wait until you can see both of the trucks headlights in your rear view mirror before moving in front of a truck.

2. Don’t Brake Suddenly

And when you are in front of the truck, be careful of braking suddenly. This is obviously something that every driver should avoid doing anyway, especially on the freeway, but when you are in front of a truck it is a lot more dangerous. A large vehicle is much harder to stop, and especially if you already a short distance from them, it could result in a terrible accident–one in which you are far more likely to come off worse from.

3.Remember Blind Spots and Avoid them

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Regular drivers only have two blind spots. Truck drivers however, have blind spots around their entire vehicle. Knowing where these are is important, and avoiding them even more so. As well as immediately in front of the vehicle, there are blind spots on the sides of trucks and immediately behind. A third of fatal crashes between cars and trucks occur in these blind spots. Try to avoid undertaking as the blind spot on the right side of a truck is much larger. As a general rule, when driving next to or behind a truck, if you cannot see their mirrors, the driver cannot see you.

4. Don’t Linger too Closely

If you are staying out of their blind spots, then this should follow easily, but it is important to note that you should not linger too closely around a truck. Aside from just the occasional rock chip, potential hazards include tire blowouts, high wind cause the truck to roll, or a sudden brake when you cannot see over or around the truck. Driving close to a truck is unavoidable in heavy traffic, but lingering is something that you should try to avoid.

5. Always Be Aware

The last rule for driving around trucks is more common sense than anything else. Always be aware when you are driving by trucks, and be a responsible driver. Remember to use your signals, drive defensively, and don’t drive distracted. Truck drivers are taught how to drive safely as well, so the important thing is to share the road and make sure that everyone makes it to their destination carefully. And if we work together, we all will.

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