Safety Tips for Driving Around Trucks
Driving around commercial trucks can be dangerous. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, more than 4,000 fatal accidents involving large trucks or buses occur each year. Of those accidents, an astonishing 74% were caused by a passenger vehicle.
Truck drivers are careful professionals who put safety first. When asked about the top safety concerns truckers faced, commercial driver Nick Maltese stated that passenger vehicles were a major factor. “It 100% comes down to cars. I leave 3 tractor trailers worth of space – 160-170 feet – between me and the truck in front of me. It takes a football field’s length or more to stop my truck due to the weight.” When passenger vehicles cut between these trucks and slow quickly or brake hard, accidents occur.
In order to keep yourself safe and provide trucks the room they need to maneuver through traffic, follow these tips and practice safe driving habits.
Give Trucks Plenty of Room
Whether you’re passing, pulling in front of or driving behind an 18-wheeler, it is key to allow ample room. Tractor-trailers are heavy and difficult to maneuver, often carrying 80,000lbs or more of cargo. In ideal conditions, these fully loaded trucks often need up to 525 feet to come to a complete stop.
Be Aware of Blind Spots
All vehicles have blind spots, but tractor-trailers have complete blind zones (also known as “no-zones”). The front “no-zone” extends approximately 20 feet from the front of the truck and the rear “no-zone” extends 30 feet behind the trailer. The passenger side of the truck is a complete “no-zone” causing a massive blind spot. Drivers should move through these zones as quickly as possible to avoid being sideswiped by a truck driver who cannot see them. Remember this, check the truck driver’s face in the side mirrors. If you can see the truck driver’s face, he can see you!
Avoid Passing a Turning Truck
We’ve all seen the notices on tractor-trailers that read “This Truck Makes Wide Turns.” In spite of these warnings, drivers attempting to pass trucks mid-turn is one of the most frequent causes of collisions between tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles. Even if it looks like you’ll have room to squeeze by, don’t do it. Be patient and allow the truck driver to complete the turn.
In addition to these three key tips for safe driving around tractor-trailers, you also must practice safe driving by wearing your seatbelt, avoiding distractions, and keeping your eyes on the road. Following these simple guidelines will keep you, your family, and the truck drivers around you safe. Remember, Safety First. Always.