Driving Safely around Large Trucks
Every year, there are over 250,000 accidents on the roads involving large trucks and personal vehicles. Given the size of a tractor trailer alone as compared to even that of a large SUV, the odds are against you coming out of an accident with a large truck favorably. Luckily, there are tactics that you can use to help reduce the risk of an accident with a tractor trailer.
Know the "NO ZONES"
All vehicles have blind spots which pose a danger while driving. A blind spot is any area of the road which cannot be seen by looking ahead through the windshield, through your front side windows, or in any of your mirrors.
Large trucks have much larger blind spots than passenger vehicles because of their height and length. It is also always best to assume that if you cannot see the driver of a large truck in their side view mirrors, they cannot see you.
When attempting to pass a tractor trailer, try to maintain a constant speed to pass through the driver's side blind spot safely. Additionally, if a large truck is trying to pass you, allow them to pass you efficiently by slowing down slightly if you can do so safely.
Never Tailgate a Large Truck
Large trucks are, in fact, quite large. The closer behind a tractor trailer you follow, the less of the road ahead you will be able to see, inhibiting your ability to prepare for hazards. If you were following too closely behind a large truck and it were to come to a sudden stop, you would have less time to react, and less time to stop. Because large commercial vehicles sit higher off the ground, your car is at risk of going under the trailer in a crash, which can be fatal.
Never Cut in Front of a Large Truck
An average car weighs roughly 4,000 lbs, and can stop at highway speeds in just over 4 seconds in ideal conditions.
A tractor trailer can weigh upwards of 80,000 lbs and can come to a stop at highway speeds in just under 6 seconds in ideal conditions.
At highway speeds, a vehicle can travel over 150 feet in 2 seconds.
The front blind spot, or "no zone" on a large truck can extend up to 20 feet.
Even without doing the math, you can see that cutting in front of a large truck can quickly end in disaster.
Give Large Trucks Room to Turn
A tractor trailer cannot turn as sharply as a car can. Because they are significantly longer, they require a wider turning radius, up to 55 feet. Never attempt to pass a truck while making a turn, as they may need to temporarily enter your lane to make the turn which can result in a crash. When you stop at an intersection, be sure to stop behind the white line to allow an oncoming truck to turn safely your direction, and avoid a head-on collision.
With a little bit of patience, and awareness, we can all work together to make it home safely.