SHARING THE ROAD WITH LARGE TRUCKS
Weighing as much as 80,000 pounds, large trucks and tractor trailers require more acceleration and deceleration time than an average passenger vehicle and can have blind spots in multiple locations. For these reasons and others, it is important for drivers to share the road responsibly with large trucks. We encourage all drivers to take extra care and observe the following tips to safely share the road. Follow these Drive Smart tips:
Pass a Truck
When passing a truck and moving back into its lane make sure you can see the truck’s headlights in your rear-view mirror before you cut back in. That allows the truck enough space to slow down or stop if something happens up ahead. Never cut in front of a truck. At 80,000 pounds, it can take a fully-loaded tractor trailer the length of a football field to stop. Most passenger cars weigh around 3,000 pounds and have a much shorter stopping distance. Always leave at least four car lengths between the back of your car and the front of any large truck you pass.
Stay out of the "No Zone"
"No Zones" are danger areas around large trucks in which crashes are more likely to occur. Because of a truck's size, there are four large blind spots where cars disappear from the driver's view. Passenger car drivers should avoid lingering in these areas whenever possible.
Leaving 20-25 car lengths between your vehicle and a truck will provide the space you'll need to stop safely during an emergency or traffic slow down. That following distance will also allow you to see ahead of the truck and react to any change in driving conditions. A good rule of thumb to ensure that you’ve left yourself enough room is to look for the truck’s side mirrors. If you can see them then you are in a good place.
Stay Away from Front and Rear Blind Spots
All vehicles traveling on the road have blind spots where other vehicles disappear from view. In tractor trailers and other large vehicles these blind spots can be surprisingly big. There are blind spots on all sides of a large truck where other vehicles can disappear from the view of the driver. If a professional truck driver has to make a sudden maneuver on the road, such as a quick lane change to avoid debris, crashes can occur if they don’t know you’re there.
Here’s what to do to avoid a truck’s blind spots:
- Don’t linger alongside a truck. If you find yourself alongside a truck either move on past or back off so that the driver can see you. Look for the driver’s face in their mirror. That will tell you if you are visible to that driver or not.
- If possible pass on the left where the blind spot is smaller. On the right the blind spot runs the length of the truck and extends out 3 lanes.
- When traveling behind a truck stay back so that the driver knows you’re there.