Safe Driving Near Semi-Trucks and Tractor Trailers

Safe Driving Near Semi-Trucks and Tractor Trailers
by Marya Sieminski

Due to the size of semi-trucks and tractor trailers, and the dangerous loads they may carry, crashes involving these huge commercial trucks can be life- threatening ” or even deadly. Many automobile drivers are unsure about the safest way to share the road with trucks, and may under- estimate the limitations on truck acceleration, braking, and visibility.

Many automobile drivers under-estimate the limitations on truck acceleration, braking, and visibility and do not allow for enough space when sharing the road with trucks.

Driving in the areas behind and beside a commercial truck where the truck driver has limited or zero visibility, otherwise known as the No-Zones.

Changing lanes quickly in front of a truck.

Driving on the right of a truck that is making a right turn.

Making a left turn in front of an approaching truck at an intersection and misjudging the speed.

Merging improperly into traffic and forcing a truck driver to try to brake quickly or swerve out of the way.

Unsafe passing, particularly passing with insufficient headway.

Misjudging air turbulence or crosswind when passing a truck and being blown out of position.

Driving between semi-trucks.

Abandoning a vehicle too close to a travel lane, or failing to get a disabled vehicle completely off the highway.

Of all motor vehicles, motorcycles are the most vulnerable on the road, because they provide cyclists with virtually no protection in a crash. When riding near large trucks, motorcyclists not only should avoid the dangers mentioned above, but also take the following safety measures:

Attend safety training.

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Wear protective gear all the time – gloves, boots, a jacket and a helmet manufactured to meet the standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Don’t exceed your riding skills.

Be a lifelong learner by taking refresher rider courses.

Conduct a safety inspection of your motorcycle before each ride.

Watch your speed around trucks, especially in bad weather or at night.

All motorists need to use extra care when changing lanes, merging, and maintaining adequate distance from semi-trucks and tractor-trailers. Here are some more important steps that you can take on the road:

About 35 percent of all fatal accidents with large trucks occur in a blind spot when cars and motorcycles temporarily disappear from the truck drivers view. Stay visible; don’t linger near large trucks. Instead, either move past or slow down to back off and get out of the trucks blind spot.

Stay 20 car lengths behind a truck, so you have time to react to any changes in the road ahead, including debris or accidents. Keep the trucks mirrors in your sight at all times.

Never cut in front of a truck. Fully loaded trucks weigh up to 80,000 pounds and take the length of a football field to stop. Be sure to leave ample distance before pulling in front of a truck.

Only change lanes when you can see both of the trucks headlights in your rearview mirror.

At intersections, trucks often make wide turns and may use additional lanes, so give a turning truck plenty of space to maneuver.

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