Sharing the road with trucks and semi-trailer trucks can be very dangerous — especially as some semis weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. In fact, fatalities in crashes involving large trucks continue to rise, with 4,317 lost lives in 2016 as compared with 3,098 in 2014.
Now is the time to encourage safe practices on the part of your drivers when it comes to sharing the road with large trucks. Experts offer the following advice:
Understand Blind Spots
Truckers have to contend with large blind spots to the right and rear as well as smaller ones on the right front corner and mid left side of the truck. Because of this, drivers should avoid cruising along side of a truck at the same rate of speed, as their vehicle won't be visible. One important tip: Look for the truck driver's face in his mirror; if you can't see him, he can't see you.
Obey These Rules of Passing
The biggest blind spot on a truck is on the right, so never pass on the right. Experts also recommend that drivers stay 10 car lengths ahead of a truck before changing into the lane in front of it. Finally, bear in mind that with right turns, a truck's back wheels take a shorter path then their front wheels. Never try to dart into the opening to pass as the driver begins a right turn — it's very dangerous and your vehicle will likely get hit.
Don't Follow Too Closely
When driving behind a truck you can't see the traffic ahead or objects in the road, so leaving a good deal of distance is imperative in case you need to stop quickly.
Never Cut Off a Truck
Most drivers don't realize that it can take as much as two football fields for a semi to come to a complete halt. Cutting off a truck and forcing it to stop can cause the truck to jackknife.
Use Good Merger Etiquette
Mergers and lane changes are challenging enough in a car, so just imagine what truckers go through. Keep in mind that they are dealing with far heavier, larger vehicles and be flexible about leaving truckers an opening to merge. It's not only good etiquette; it's safer for everyone on the road.
Finally, be patient if it takes a trucker a few attempts to safely back up, maneuver into a spot, or get their truck up to speed — these are all inherent challenges of driving a big rig.