Sharing the Roads Safely with Trucks

December 13, 2011

Tractor-trailers, semi-trucks, and other big rigs make many drivers nervous. Likewise, car drivers that don't understand how to share the highway with big rigs are dangerous to truckers. Luckily, big rigs don't get into accidents nearly as much as other types of vehicles do. Only 2.4 percent of all car accidents involve semi-trucks. Because large trucks are driven by skilled professionals and usually stick to highways, the risk of an accident is greatly reduced, which helps you save money on auto insurance.

If you plan to do any holiday travel, you may find yourself on the highway with a big rig. Here are a few tips for driving safely around big trucks, so you can share the road with them safely.

  • Stay out of their blind spot. If you can't see the truck's mirrors, the truck can't see you.
  • Give the truck enough stopping distance. It takes 100 yards for a semi to go from 55 mph to a complete stop. That's as long as a football field, and this distance could nearly double on icy or wet roads. Give the truck plenty of room when you pass it. You should be able to see its headlights in your rearview mirror by the time you return to its lane.
  • Bear in mind that trucks need extra space in order to turn. Avoid passing a truck that's turning, and if possible keep clear of it in the intersection until the turn is completed.
  • At an intersection, if you are waiting at a red light and a truck approaches, you should always wait to see that the truck has stopped before proceeding at the green light.
  • Try not to drive beside a big truck for longer than necessary. If their tire blows out, you can be hit with the rubber pieces. The truck may also lose control and veer in to your lane.
  • Remember that semi-trucks are more likely to be buffeted about by the wind. If you're driving in windy conditions, take care to give the truck extra space, especially when passing.
  • When driving up a hill, trucks will slow down; they will drive faster on the way down, thanks to inertia. Don't pass a truck at the top of a hill, as they may not be able to control their speed on the way back down.
  • Following behind a truck can actually be the safest place on the highway, as long as you give yourself plenty of stopping distance.

Semi-trucks handle differently from passenger vehicles, and must be driven accordingly. By remembering the special needs of big rigs, you can drive conscientiously and avoid an accident. With a little common sense and know-how, you can share the road with a semi-truck with little risk.

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