It is not easy sharing the road with trucks can be daunting. They are very large compared to the average car, can be very intimidating, and may sometimes do things that may seem confusing. But the drivers operating them are doing all they can to keep themselves and everyone on the road around them as safe as possible. There are a few things you can do to keep yourself safe when driving near one of these big vehicles.
Semi trailers can carry up to 40tons, sometimes, with special permits; they can even haul more weight. It takes a lot of space to stop that much mass at highway speeds, at 80KPH it can take the length of two and a half football fields to bring a fully loaded trailer to a full stop and that’s on a normal dry road. On wet or muddy roads, higher speeds, or heavier loads can make that stopping distance even longer. Stopping quickly simply isn’t an option for a semi trailer, and changing lanes quickly to avoid a collision can cause a truck to jack.
Always bear this in mind the fact that, as you manoeuvre around a big truck. Always avoid pulling out in front of a semi and expect the driver to be able to slow down to accommodate you. He may not be able to. And please, don’t cut in front of a semi and hit your brakes to take a highway exit. It’s far safer to wait a few extra seconds and get in behind the big truck.
Never linger in a truck’s blind spots. When driving near a rig remember that semi trucks have very large blind spots. If you are behind the truck, and you can’t see the side mirrors of the truck, the driver can’t see you. There are also blind spots along the sides of trucks. Don’t linger alongside a truck any longer than you have to.
The spots where the driver’s cab and the trailer’s main unit meet and alongside the driver or passenger door of the truck are spots very hard to see in the mirrors. If you are in a truck’s blind spot the driver may not even know you are there. If you must pass a semi, pass quickly and don’t linger in the blind spots.
In short, when you decide to overtake, for your own sake, do it fast, don’t hesitate. Better still, if not in no hoot zones, hoot before you embark on overtaking. That way, the truck driver will be aware of your presence on the road.
Because the trailer of the semi doesn’t exactly follow the path of the cab of the truck (this is called “off-tracking” or “tail swing”), semis must often swing wide to make a turn, especially when turning r onto a narrow road. If you see a truck pulling to the left to make a right turn don’t try to hurry to overtake it on the right. That gap will close very quickly as the trailer off tracks to the inside of the turn and you could become trapped between the trailer and the road side.
The blind spot on the right of the truck is also much larger, so it’s never a good idea to try to pass a rig on the right at any time. Give semi trucks a little extra room and a little extra time and you will be helping to make the road safer for everyone.