Road Rules 101: Do you know the ‘No Zone?’

Monday, February 3, 2020by  PEMCO Insurance

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Readers Sherry and Stan I. recently wrote, "Large trucks often seem to go too fast in our region, even though the traffic is very dense. What's the best way to avoid an accident with a truck?"

The single best strategy: Steer clear of the truck's "No Zone." That includes blind spots in truck's side mirrors, the 20 car lengths directly behind it and at least four car lengths in front to give it room to stop.


Dark days and icy, rainy weather only increase the space buffer needed around trucks.

We empathize with the panic many drivers feel when they look behind them and see nothing but grille. In car versus truck accidents, car occupants almost always come out worse (one in 10 highway fatalities involves a big truck, even though trucks make up fewer than one in 10 vehicles on the road).

Still, in fatal accident investigations, 81% of car drivers have "fault factors" versus 27% of truck drivers, according to the American Trucking Association. So the glimmer of good news? There's more drivers can do to stay safer:

Don't linger near a truck. If you can't see the driver's face in the side mirrors, the driver can't see you.

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 (then don't slow down).

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. 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 roll up alongside, assuming the truck has pulled over to let you pass.

NOTE: While we're experts in loss prevention and home/auto safety, we don't consider ourselves experts in traffic laws or their enforcement. Information shared here is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you have legal concerns, we urge you to contact a law enforcement source or attorney in your community.

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Comments on this post

personKristofer Graap02/07/2020 02:43 PM
@Stewart:  I'd argue that big trucks already have very functional mirrors, as they pay plenty for insurance and want to minimize their liability.  Even if they had perfect mirrors, you can't maneuver a truck like a car even in the best of circumstances.  Those drivers that I know are very professional and excellent in their driving.  They also 'police' their own. They want to return safety to families after a run.
As the article suggests, the car driver needs to take some responsibility and initiative to help - giving trucks a wide berth, not sitting in their blind spot, and not cutting in front.  Truckers are not the 'bad guy' on our roads.
personJW02/06/2020 05:50 PM
Is there a way to appeal to the DOT to ban large trucks from using the fast lane, regardless of if they are empty and not hauling anything or loaded .  This is a huge nuisance.  In fact during peak hours they should not be allowed to use the middle lane too...they need to use only the slow lane. That will help traffic congestion and the rest of the cars can move quicker.
personDJ02/06/2020 12:24 PM
What about trucks in the fast lane? Where's the enforcement on that? There's plenty of that going on here in the Vancouver Washington area.
Also lots of uncovered loads of rock, gravel and soil running around here without enforcement. How many drivers lose windshields because of these culprits? How do  you report one because there's no way to ask them to pull over?
personJennifer02/06/2020 10:28 AM
Other factors to include are the possibilities of snow chains coming apart on trucks or retreads flying apart.Often you see chuncks of chain in the roadway or "alligators", big chunks of tires that can do major damage to your car.  Recognize that getting past a big truck is important, but do not cut in front.  There is a lot of mass that cannot stop on a dime.
personStewart 02/06/2020 09:34 AM
Why don’t insurance companies and state laws require better mirrors on trucks so that they have no or minimal blind spots?

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