There are a lot of things we know about driving and a lot of things we don’t know or just haven’t occurred to us. So below are a list of things to keep in mind when sharing the road with a tractor trailer and some tips to make sharing the road a more pleasurable experience for everyone.
1. Tractor Trailers fully loaded can weigh over 80,000 pounds. Nothing that weighs that much can stop on a dime, not matter high tech their breaking system. It is simply against all the laws of physics. So it is very important to give them a lot of room in front and behind, to protect yourself in case of an accident or to prevent an accident.
2. Tractor Trailers have very specific blind spots – the closer you are to the truck lessens the likelihood that the driver can see you in any mirror. It is very important, therefore, to keep your distance in all sides of a truck of any size.
3. Passing on the right – just don’t. Ever. Ok why? Well, when you pass on the right, you very quickly move yourself into a blind spot where the driver cannot see you – if they decide to move into your lane – the driver will not be able to see you in the mirrors and you may not see the turn signals indicating the truck is
about to move over. Collision imminent. Please avoid this practice.
4. If you drive or have driven a stick shift or motorcycle, you know that it takes a bit to get going – you have to cycle up through all the gears one at a time in order to reach a specific speed. A fully loaded truck starting from a dead stop (say at a red light) is going to take a bit to get going as it has to cycle up to the gear necessary to give it momentum/speed. By the same token, a truck moving at a specific speed will need to down shift through all the gears in order to slow down or stop. SEE #1. It is not logical to expect a truck of any size or weight to go from 0 to 55 in just a few seconds and it is even less logical to expect a truck to stop on a dime. Please have patience and allow working room for the
5. Be kind and let them in! In cases were merging is required, hang back a little and give the truck room to move in front of you. If you see one in a lane next to you with turn signals flashing, hang back and flick your lights to let the truck know there is room in front of you to move in and then let him pull in front of
you. In most cases, the driver will usually flash his lights at you when he’s finished to acknowledge your kind sharing of the road. Many times allowing the truck to move in front of you provides an opening for you to legally pass the truck on the left, so working together allows everyone to get to their destination quickly and safely.
6. About to merge or pass in front of a truck? Use the 10-mississippi rule! Stay in your lane and begin to pass the truck (with turn signals on!) and starting counting - 1mississippi, 2mississippi, etc. until you get to 10mississippi and then move into the lane in front of the truck - this allows proper space between you for acceleration or deceleration as needed due to traffic conditions.
7. NEVER DRIVE OR WALK BEHIND A TRUCK THAT IS BACKING UP.
8. NEVER DRIVE OR WALK BEHIND A TRUCK THAT IS BACKING UP. I know you think I’m silly to repeat this but drivers can share with you many cases where a person in a car attempted this maneuver and caused serious accidents. When a vehicle is backing up it is at its most vulnerable and the instances of blind spots multiplies considerably and changes from moment to moment. What that means is – they cannot see you – so attempting to move around them is extremely dangerous and should not be attempted. Remember – truck drivers are professionals – it isn’t going to take them more than a minute or so to get out of your way – a little patience keeps everyone safe.
9. You may or may not have noticed that when a truck approaches a ramp where traffic will be merging to their right, they often move to the lane immediately to their left in order the vehicles entering the highway a chance to build up their speed and merge safely into traffic. This is an excellent practice that is helpful for everyone to use because it keeps the traffic moving.
10. Remember – in most cases you are driving to your home or office; a trucker is DRIVING their home and office. And just like you need to be at a specific place at a specific time, so do they. It is to everyone's benefit to work together, share the road and be safe!