Sharing the road with large trucks can be scary. The wide turns. The blind spots. The slow reaction. Large trucks can be intimidating. But consider this: More than 80% of accidents involving small vehicles and semi-trucks are caused by the smaller vehicle.
Wondering what precautions you should take when driving near large trucks? Here are seven tips to keep you safe.
1. Stay Alert
No matter how many years you have behind the wheel, it’s important to stay road aware and avoid distractions. Drive defensively by paying attention to the vehicles around you, traffic flow, weather, etc. And it goes without saying — you shouldn’t text and drive. Keep both hands on the wheel. Big trucks react slower, so it’s harder for them to change course to avoid an accident.
2. Keep Your Distance
Give yourself room to merge, swerve and maneuver around big trucks. For example, staying at least four seconds behind a semi-trailer can help you react in the event of a tire blowout, unexpected stop or potential rollover due to high wind. Most big trucks require a wide berth when turning. When you see a truck’s turning signal, it is a good idea to stay back and allow the truck driver plenty of room to navigate a turn.
3. Avoid Lingering in a Truck’s Blind Spots
Big trucks have big blind spots. The right side of a truck, directly in front of the cab and just behind the trailer are places you don’t want to linger, as it’s difficult for the driver to see you. If you can’t see the truck’s mirrors, the driver can’t see you.
4. Pass on the Left
Passing trucks on the right causes you to spend more time in their blind spot than passing on the left. Instead, when passing a truck, drivers should pass on the left side, move quickly and stay close to the shoulder. These steps will minimize the time you spend in the truck’s blind spot, decreasing the risk of an accident.
5. Merge or Change Lanes Wisely
When changing lanes or merging in front of a big truck, make sure you can see the truck’s entire front in your rearview mirror to avoid a rear-end collision. Remember, big trucks have a slower reaction time. In fact, it takes almost the length of two football fields for a semi to come to a complete stop when traveling 65 mph.
6. Dim Your Brights
When approaching a large truck head-on or from behind, be sure to dim your headlights. Your brights reflecting in a truck’s mirrors can cause two to three seconds of blindness for a driver when traveling at 55 mph. And that is all it takes to cause a significant accident. It’s a good rule to dim your brights when you get within one block of a semi from any direction.
7. Signal Well in Advance
When you’re driving in the vicinity of — especially in front of — big trucks, signal a minimum of three seconds, allowing the driver plenty of time to see you, slow down and react accordingly.
Keep these simple tips in mind as you set out to travel. Be patient. Be alert. And be mindful of a large truck’s limitations and restrictions when it comes to reacting and stopping once in motion. Share the road safely!