SAFE DRIVING TIPS for motorist sharing the road with large trucks
It is best to use defensive driving skill for any driver, but there are a few techniques that you should keep in mind specifically when you’re in the proximity of a large truck, whether on or off the highway. Here are some tips to keep in mind in efforts to avoid an accident:
- Allow more space when following a truck than you would with a passenger car. A larger vehicle limits your visibility of what’s ahead, including slowed or stopped traffic, construction, or other hazardous travel conditions. By leaving plenty of space between your vehicle and the truck in front of you, you have more opportunity to react if you need to make a sudden stop or swerve.
- Leave space when passing in front of a truck. A truck is much heavier than a passenger car, which means it requires more distance to stop. Don’t ever cut in front of a large truck. If you can’t pass with plenty of room, then stay in your lane.
- Stay out of a truck’s blind spot. There’s a little trick to help you know if you’re in a truck’s blind spot: look at the truck’s side mirrors. If you can’t see the truck driver’s face in the mirror, the truck driver can’t see you. It’s safer to pass a truck on the driver’s side. They have a much wider blind spot on the passenger side. In other words, you should pass in the left lane while the truck is to the right.
- Be careful where you pull over on the highway. If you need to pull off the highway in between exits, try to find a wide shoulder or a designated pull-off spot. Many accidents happen because a car is pulled over and swiped by a passing truck that swerves a little onto the shoulder.
- Use caution if a truck is turning. A truck needs more clearance to turn than a car. In addition, the driver has less visibility. So, if you need to judge a truck’s speed as it approaches an intersection or how much space it will need to clear a turn, always allow more room, rather than less. Assume that the truck is moving faster than you think it is and requires most of the intersection to make a turn.
- Never play “chicken” with a truck. If you think a truck is going to try to pass you or get in front of you, let it. The highway isn’t a time to be “right” or faster, even if you think you have the right of way. Even if you don’t want to allow the truck to get in front of you, do it anyway. Not doing so can have deadly consequences.
- Pass quickly. Only pass a truck when you can see that there’s space ahead to do so swiftly. You don’t want to linger in the lane beside a truck for any longer than necessary. Tire blowouts and rollovers happen frequently and you don’t want to be alongside a truck when one of these events happens.
- Be predictable. This is important in any driving situation, but especially when it comes to proximity to large trucks. Use signals clearly so that a truck driver can see what you intend to do and can adjust their own driving accordingly. Never change lanes or turn without using your signals.
- Avoid distracted driving. Highway driving, in particular, can be long and boring. But don’t let yourself become too fatigued or distracted while driving. Just remember — the other drivers are bored, too. Plan your trip before you leave so that you have good music, audiobooks, podcasts, or whatever you like for entertainment already queued up. Don’t be fiddling with your phone, or even the car radio, while driving. If you need to change things up, wait until you get to a rest area or find a safe place to pull over. If you begin to feel tired, take a break. Don’t wait until you start to nod off, because then you’re already in a dangerous situation.
- Anticipate weather conditions. Storms happen almost everywhere, and sometimes they pop up fast. Bad weather creates dangerous driving conditions. You can set a weather app on your phone to alert you if a dangerous storm is coming your way. Or, if one does happen quickly, head for the nearest exit and wait it out.