Safety Tips for Driving Around Big Trucks
If you drive a lot on the highway, you are no stranger to driving around large trucks and commercial vehicles including trailers, flatbeds, large tippers or car transporters. While your average passenger vehicle weights around 1800kg, the semi-trailer next to you can go up to 44 tons. In the case the two collide, the small vehicles can be crushed and life-threatening situations may arise. While many truck accident fatalities are attributed to drowsy truckers on long hauls, shifting cargo or even brake failure, recent studies indicate that passenger car drivers may be equally to blame.
There are some simple measures for small vehicle drivers to take when sharing the roads with large trucks and avoid being victims of the road. Here are some tips that show the importance of driving carefully around semi-trailers and large commercial vehicles.
First of all, there are some things that everybody should know about large vehicles and the unique challenges they are facing on the road:
Large trucks have special considerations to be aware of:
- Huge blind spots, known as “No Zones”– Compared to passenger vehicles, truck drivers have a reduced field of vision thanks to multiple blind spots in front and behind their rigs, and along both sides.
- Wider turning radius – Semi trucks have a turning radius of nearly 16m and need extra space to make turns, particularly right-hand turns
- Longer stopping times – A semi-trailer that is traveling 100 km/h will need nearly 180 meters to stop
- Reduced maneuverability – Due to the large surface area of the rig, truck drivers have less control over their vehicles during windy conditions. In addition, semis have slower reaction times
Tips for safely driving around big trucks
Avoid a potentially dangerous truck crash by following these 5 safety tips:
- Never drive in a truck’s No Zones – Remember that if you can’t see the driver’s face in the truck’s side mirror, he can’t see you either. Avoid driving in these blind spots.
- Learn to pass safely – Avoid passing tractor trailers on a downgrade and always try and pass on the left side. Put your turn signal on early and make sure you see the driver in the mirror before passing
- Stay back and allow extra space – Large commercial vehicle need extra space and time to stop, slow down and turn. Maintain a safe distance (10 car length gap) and never tailgate
- Don’t cut in too close – Heavy trucks take 40 percent longer to stop than the average vehicle. Allow ample space when merging or changing lanes to avoid a crash.
- Maintain a consistent speed around large trucks and be sure to adjust according to weather and road conditions