Sharing the road with larger vehicles like 18-wheelers can be dangerous if you are not aware of their unique limitations. For one, drivers of large trucks have large blind spots which can restrict their ability to see you – especially if you’re in a smaller car or on a motorcycle. Here are some other useful tips and common mistakes to avoid when driving near semi-trucks and tractor trailers.
When driving around large trucks
- Cutting in front can cut your life short. Trucks are slower at breaking, so never immediately cut in front of them. It can take over 500 feet for a fully loaded truck going 65 mph to come to a complete stop. As a good rule of thumb, wait until you can see both of the truck headlights in your rear-view mirror before moving in front of a truck.
- Avoid traveling alongside or too closely behind a truck. When following behind a semi, leave yourself 20 to 25 car lengths behind it. That may seem like a long distance, but riding too closely puts you at risk for rocks (or other objects) thrown up from the road, tire blowouts and exploding tire treads, and high winds that can cause the truck to roll over.
- Be sure to allow plenty of clearance between your vehicle and large trucks. Because of their size, tractor-trailers create wind currents that can affect nearby vehicles. These currents can threaten your own vehicle’s stability when you are too close.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Do not text while driving and remember to always use your signals to let other drivers know your intention to change lanes.
- Take extra care when driving in adverse weather conditions. Consider the road circumstances and reduce your speed in the rain, smoke, or fog and exercise extra caution when driving at night.
Do your best to expect the unexpected and remember: the best way to avoid an accident and keep you and your family safe is to drive cautiously and patiently.