10 Tips For Driving Safely Around Trucks
Be alert and practice patience when driving with trucks to prevent accidents.
Did you know that statistics show that over 72% of accidents involving trucks are the fault of the other vehicle!
It’s clear that most drivers don’t know how to properly drive around trucks. So here are 10 tips for safely driving around trucks:
#1 Avoid blind spots
Make sure the truck driver can see you in his mirrors. If you can’t see him, he can’t see you. Did you know that passenger vehicles are 2.7x more likely to rear end large trucks than vice versa, mostly due to poor visibility.
1/3 of fatal crashes between cars and large trucks occur in these four blinds spots, so consider them danger zones
#2 Pass on the left
Pass on the left side for maximum visibility and maintain a consistent speed
#3 Don’t linger near the truck.
Give trucks plenty of space to avoid dangerous scenarios. Be aware and alert.
- Tire Blowouts – tire shreds can fly through you windshield
- High Wind – can cause trucks to roll over
- Truck Brakes Suddenly – car slides under the trailer
- Keep Your Distance – Following distance should be at least 4 seconds
#4 Don’t cut trucks off
Be sure to leave plenty of buffer room when you pull in front of a truck. Remember, large trucks simple cannot stop as fast as cars
Why allow so much space? Consider the 3 factors that make up your total stopping distance:
- Perception distance – time it takes to you to realize the need to break
- Reaction distance – time it takes to you move your foot to the brake pedal
- Braking distance – time it takes for the brakes to take effect
- It takes a 5,000 lb car traveling at 55 mph @ 140 ft to stop
- It takes an 80,000 lb truck traveling at the same 55 mph 300+ ft to stop
#5 Allow space between the trailer and the curb.
You may see truck drivers move away from the curb (“swing wide”) when preparing to turn right. During a turn, rear wheels follow a shorter path than the front wheels. The longer the vehicle, the greater the difference.
Don’t rush into this space to make your own turn. You could end up hit or trapped between the truck and curb.
#6 Practice patience
Try to be predictable. Avoid making erratic moves if a truck isn’t going as fast as you’d like. Never try to speed around a truck that’s backing up.
#7 Lower your brights
Bright headlights reflecting off large side mirrors can blind truck drivers
2 seconds of blindness at 55 mph means the truck travels more than half the distance of a football field.
#8 Signal Sooner
Trucks require more time and distance to slow down and stop, so signal early when changing lanes, stopping or turning near a large truck.
Rule of thumb: signal at least 3 seconds before you make your move (earlier when traveling at high speeds)
#9 Merge with Care
Avoid merging in front of a truck when traffic ahead may stop or slow. If a truck passes you, decelerate slightly to minimize passing time.
#10 Pay Attention
Distracted drivers are dangerous drivers
- Most common distractions are cell phones, passengers daydreaming, reaching for an item, rubbernecking
- In 2010 distraction contributed to nearly 2/10 injury crashes and 9 out of 10 fatal crashes!
- Semi trucks are generally safer than cars and they get in fewer accidents. But a collision between a car and a large truck can be deadly due to force and weight.