All vehicles on the road are not created equal when it comes to weight, stopping distance, blind spots, and maneuverability. The disparity is greatest, perhaps, between passenger cars and large trucks – with cars almost always coming out on the short end when the two meet by accident.*
These tips can go a long way toward ensuring you a safe ride when sharing the road with big rigs:
- Don’t linger near a truck. You disappear from a trucker’s view when you’re directly behind, in front, and alongside all but the rear corners of the truck. If you can’t see the driver’s face in the truck’s side mirrors, the driver can’t see you. Stay four car lengths in front of a truck and 20 car lengths in back.
- Pass trucks quickly on the left side only, and don’t return to the lane until you can see both of the truck’s headlights in your rearview mirror.
- Be aware of approaching weigh stations and give trucks plenty of room to make their way to the right lane.
- Don’t cut in front of a truck to beat it to an exit. Trucks require 20% to 40% more stopping distance than your car. A loaded truck can take the length of a football field to stop.
- Allow for a truck’s wide turns. To accommodate its trailer’s swing, a truck turning left often must first pull to the right. The opposite is true for trucks turning right. Don’t sneak up alongside, assuming the truck has pulled over to let you pass.
*Trucks are involved in about 11% of all passenger vehicle deaths, even though they make up just 3% of registered vehicles. Or, put another way, 98% of people killed in truck-car crashes were riding in the car. In nearly three out of four fatal accidents involving trucks and one or more other vehicles, someone other than the truck driver was at fault.