One might say that driving alongside semi-trailers is the equivalent of running with dinosaurs. The one difference is that you actually survive driving next to an 18-wheeler if you stick to the proper etiquette. How can you safely drive around large vehicles? Here’s what you need to know.
In general, it’s never a good idea to make any sudden moves while driving, whether it’s to cut in front of someone or to avoid another driver. What you’re doing is that you’re forcing an unprepared driver to react to a sudden, unexpected decision that wasn’t theirs, to begin with. Meaning, it’s a gamble whether or not they will respond appropriately. When it comes to driving around trucks, whether or not the driver is prepared doesn’t matter. The heavyweight of the vehicle, especially when combined with the cargo won’t allow the driver to react in time, whether to brake before they hit you or dodge you altogether.
Tailgating is a bad idea in all scenarios, especially when you’re risking more than a broken bumper. Because of the massive space between a truck’s body and the ground, a strong enough impact can lodge your car right underneath, flattening it and fatally injuring you. So, if you want to stay safe, it’s advised to keep a distance of thirty feet (equivalent to two to three cars) from the back of the truck. That way, you’d have enough time to stop in case of an emergency. Ideally, however, you don’t want to drive directly behind a truck, since this puts you in a blind spot.
Unlike small vehicles, freight trucks have several blind spots, owing to their size. Their length and height prevent them from seeing the cars that are too close to them, or the one directly behind. To guarantee that you’re seen, make sure you’re not directly next to the truck from either side. You want to keep your car behind the length of the vehicle and on either side of the driver in order to be visible in their mirrors. If you’re overtaking the vehicle, don’t drive too close to the side because you won’t be seen. As mentioned above, pass the vehicle from afar.
As strong as a truck’s braking system is, it’ll never be as efficient as a small car’s brakes. Don’t forget that when the vehicle is fully loaded, the brakes can take even longer to slow down. That said, any Tampa semi truck accident lawyer can tell you that the ramifications of such crashes are gravely life-altering. The next time you’re thinking about cutting in front of the 18-wheeler by your side, drive ahead for a bit before you shift lanes. Twenty feet should be enough distance for them to react and slow down.
Speeding around semi-trailers and large vehicles is highly ill-advised due to many reasons, and getting frustrated at the drivers won’t help, either. Truck drivers are responsible for highly valuable cargo, and they’re often ordered to follow a rigid set of instructions, including a specific speed limit which is usually monitored by their dispatch managers. Meaning, regardless of how much you honk, they won’t speed up. It’s their job. Speeding past a truck out of nowhere might force the driver to violently maneuver which will harm them, their lives, their job safety, and their cargo. So, for your safety and theirs, stay calm and shift lanes.
The best course of action around a turning freight truck is to stay out of the way and give it plenty of space. While it takes a passenger car one move to successfully execute a turn, a truck driver has to turn with their cab partition and then the trailer partition. Some drivers choose to take a narrow turn and let the trailer swing into the outer lane. Other drivers start their turn from the middle lane to avoid that swing, but it means occupying the innermost lane, too. When near a truck, stay behind and leave enough space for the driver to turn with their method of choice, then continue along your way.
There’s no wonder sometimes it seems that cargo vehicles are unpredictable in their movements. It turns out that they’re not just big cars, and any driver with this amount of limitations would have to drive around differently. Now that you’re aware of how it’s like on the other side, you’ll be prepared the next time you meet a large vehicle. Remember, just give it priority, enough space, and stay visible.