Sharing the road with vehicles is a challenge, and every kind of vehicle poses a unique set of challenges. Driving with motorcyclists means making sure they don’t disappear in your blind spot, and sharing the road with sports cars often means dealing with drivers who go faster than the speed limit.
Driving with truckers on the road poses unique challenges too.
Unfortunately, there are nearly 4,000 fatal truck accidents every year in the United States. In many of those accidents, other people are involved.
Getting into an accident with a trucker can be more dangerous than getting into an accident with other kinds of vehicles, especially if that accident occurs on the highway or interstate. No matter where you cross paths with a truck, these tips will make sure you share the road safely.
Trucking Companies Are Responsible for Their Drivers
The very first thing to keep in mind is that trucking companies are responsible for their drivers. Why does that matter? It means not just anyone is sitting behind the wheel of that truck.
Not only do drivers have to obtain a special license, they also have to demonstrate to the company they drive for that they are a valuable employee. The company is heavily invested in making sure they drive safely on the road.
In addition, it also means companies are responsible for accidents that occur. Should you find yourself in an accident with a trucker, make sure you know what company they work for, as they will likely be the one responsible for paying for damages or medical bills.
Give Yourself Plenty of Space
A safe following distance is important, no matter what kind of vehicle you’re following, but it’s especially important behind a trailer.
You should give yourself one second of stopping distance for every 10 feet of vehicle length. That means at least 4 seconds for tractor trailers.
It means maintaining space between you and the truck behind you too. Large vehicles are unable to stop on a dime. The more space you have between you and the truck behind you, the less likely you are to get rear ended.
Know the Right Way to Pass a Truck
It’s normal to pass a truck on the highway or interstate. Because they are large and often carrying heavy loads, most don’t drive the speed limit. That’s especially the case when driving uphill.
You can safely pass a truck, as long as you know the right way to do it. A few tips for passing large trailers include:
- Pass the truck on its left side, never on the right side.
- Merge back into the lane only when you can see the entire truck in your rearview mirror.
- Don’t pass a truck in heavy rain.
- Never slow down when you merge back into the right lane.
- Never cut off a truck
Don’t Drive Next to a Truck, If It Can Be Avoided
Passing a truck can be scary and a bit dangerous, but that doesn’t mean you should hang out around trucks on the road. It’s actually much better to pass a truck safely than it is to drive next to, behind, or directly in front of a truck for long distances.
Trucks have large blind spots, and because their vehicle is so large, their maneuverability is reduced. A truck may not know you are there if you drive in their blind spot. That’s especially the case if you’re in the right hand lane, as their blind spot on that side of the vehicle is much larger.
Always pass a truck unless the weather is really bad, or the traffic is congested.
Don’t Make Any Sudden Moves
Predictable driving is important. It’s how we can usually tell what other drivers are doing on the road. That means following the rules of the road, but it also means not making any sudden movements.
It’s not a good idea to dart in and out of traffic around a trucker. It has the potential to cause an accident, but it also makes their job a lot more difficult. Stopping a large truck takes time, and swerving and turning take a lot of control. You should drive in a manner that enables them to stay on their current course at a consistent speed.
Be Patient Dealing with Trucks in Town or Backing Up
Dealing with truck drivers on the interstates and highways can be frustrating, but at least you can pass them when the timing is right. That may not be something you can do when you’re driving in town.
Be patient when dealing with trucks in town. It is difficult for them to get going after a complete stop, and because it takes longer to stop at a stoplight, they will break sooner than smaller vehicles. They’re driving this way to keep everyone safe on the road.
It’s hard enough driving a car in reverse, let alone a truck, so make sure you give them plenty of space and time if you get stuck behind one that’s backing into a loading bay.
Show Some Compassion
Road rage is normal on the road. It’s especially easy to get angry at a truck that isn’t driving very fast or isn’t steadfastly staying in his lane.
Try and have a little compassion. Keep in mind that truckers are on the road for many hours at a time. The driver may be tired and looking for his next place to rest. He could be dealing with a truck he’s not used to driving or one that has a particularly heavy load. Having a little compassion will make you safer on the road, and it will make for a more enjoyable trip.
As a driver, you have to share the road with all kinds of vehicles. Some require more attention than others. The next time you find yourself driving near a large tractor trailer, think back on these tips, and you can make sure you keep the both of you safe on the road.