Helping Truckers to Help Yourself: Safety Tips for Driving Near Trucks
For truck drivers, there is no such thing as a stress-free stretch of road. However, some streets are inherently more nerve-racking than others. For instance, driving within city limits is much more stressful than driving on a relatively clear highway.
In addition to the increased traffic in and around highly populated towns, city streets present several challenges even for highly skilled truck drivers:
- Decreased maneuverability. City roads tend to be narrower than highways and can be particularly claustrophobic for large truck drivers to navigate. Because trucks must swing widely to the left when making right turns, smaller roads are cumbersome; drivers must pay extra attention in order to ensure that the trailer stays completely on the road.
- More frequent braking. Traffic lights are placed a relatively short distance apart—in some cases, at the end of every block—and cause a lot of stop-and-go traffic. Frequent stops can put a lot of pressure on truckers, who must anticipate their stopping distance well ahead of normal vehicles.
- More obstacles and hazards. Cities have hundreds of driving obstructions that truckers must anticipate; this requires radical changes in driving techniques when compared to highway driving. Low bridges, construction areas, pedestrian and bike traffic—these are all common hazards to which truckers must adapt their driving to navigate through a city. Often, truckers must adapt by traveling at reduced speeds, which increases stress as the delivery schedule falls further behind.
Driving Tips to Promote City Truck Safety
Despite the increased difficulty, truck drivers occasionally have to take detours from their highway routes and travel through cities to get to their destinations. However, careful passenger car drivers recognize the problems truckers face when driving in town, and they adapt their own driving to lessen the chance of an accident. In fact, by knowing the following tips on how to safely drive near a truck, you can help decrease the trucker’s anxiety as well as the overall risks for an accident.
- Allow large trucks the right of way. If a truck is passing, do not try and speed up to get ahead; instead, just slow down slightly to allow the trucker to change into the lane in front of you, then begin to pass him safely. When a truck is trying to change into your lane do your best to accommodate it by allowing it in.
- Ensure that you can be seen. If you cannot see a truck’s mirrors, the driver cannot see you. Trucks are large and have many blind spots where drivers cannot see the road or nearby vehicles. Their mirrors allow drivers a glimpse of the surrounding areas but aren’t large enough to capture everything. Learn where a trucks blind spots are and learn to avoid those areas, in order to decrease the risk of a semi truck accident.
- Take extra precautions at intersections. When you approach a truck waiting at an intersection, double-check the truck’s turn signal. If the truck’s signal is flashing, stay well behind the truck and be patient as it turns. In addition to needing a wide birth, trucks tend to take more time when turning than other vehicles to ensure their trailers don’t tip. You may have to wait to complete your turn until the truck is clear of the intersection, but a few extra seconds is a small price to pay.
- Give trucks space. When stopping behind a truck on a hill, remember to leave plenty of space between it and you. Trucks have a tendency to roll backward during the time it takes the trucker to move his foot from the brake to the gas. If you are too close, then you run the risk of getting backed into, which can cause serious injury or death.
Safety Has No Boundaries
Whether you live in the city or the country, driving near trucks can put you in serious danger if you don’t know how to react. Now that you have the information you need, take a moment to spread this message with your friends and family. Simply share this article on Facebook or Twitter to encourage others to drive safely, and help decrease truck accidents. One more safe driver on the roads is a “win” for everyone!