The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Fleet Safety Tip of the Week: Sharing the Highway With Big Trucks

July 17, 2012

Share the Road is a highway safety program operated by the American Trucking Associations. Here is some advice from the group on how to safely share the road with heavy-duty commercial trucks. You may want to pass this along to your drivers as a friendly reminder.
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Following Behind a Truck
When following behind a truck, leave yourself 20 to 25 car lengths behind it. This may seem like a long distance. But because large trucks obscure visibility far more than smaller vehicles, that much room is needed so you have enough time to react if road conditions suddenly change. A good rule of thumb to ensure 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.
Take these considerations into account:

- Debris in the road, such as lumber or a ladder, might have no impact on a large truck. If that debris was suddenly in front of you because the truck drove over it and you were following too closely, it could have a devastating impact. 

- On congested roadways traffic often slows down suddenly. If you are traveling too closely behind a truck, you cannot see the slowdown coming.

- At highway speeds everything happens very fast. Accidents up ahead or right in front of a truck require fast reactions. Leaving enough space in front of you will allow for that response.
Passing 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.
  • A fully loaded tractor trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and take the length of a football field to stop. Most passenger cars weigh around 3,000 pounds and have a much shorter stopping distance. Just because you can stop in time doesn’t mean that the truck behind you can if you’ve cut too close in front of it. Even if the driver makes a monumental effort, the truck may not be able to stop if you haven’t left enough room.
  • You may wonder why truck drivers leave space in front of them in heavy traffic. It’s so they have enough stopping distance. Don’t fill in that space and take up that safety buffer that the driver is trying to maintain.
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