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How to Drive Around Large Trucks

The #1 rule to remember when you are driving around big trucks is to leave extra space. Besides being patient, driving sober, avoiding distractions, and wearing a seatbelt; all the other rules essentially come down to putting extra space between you and large vehicles. Nevertheless, our team at Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC wants to share the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Admiration’s “10 rules of the road” with you, so you can stay safe, no matter the circumstances.

Rule #1: Stay Out of the “No Zones”

Large trucks have enormous blind spots on all 4 sides, and it’s your job to avoid them. When driving next to a trick, always assume:

If you can’t see the driver in the vehicle side mirror, they cannot see you.

Instead of driving in the blind spots, slow down or speed up to make yourself visible and be extra cautious when merging. The more space there is between you and an 18-wheeler, the more likely the driver is to spot you in their mirrors.

Rule #2: Pass Safely

Always pass on the left, use your signals, and give semi-trucks plenty of space. You should never pass if you can’t see the driver in the vehicle’s mirror or see the whole truck in your rearview mirror. Avoid passing trucks on downgrades and hills, as well. When a truck tries to pass you, stay to the right, slow down, and (you guessed it) give the driver extra space.

Rule #3: Don’t Cut it Close

“Cutting off” a commercial truck is a recipe for disaster. Semi-trucks take up to 40% longer to stop than passenger vehicles, so drivers may not be able to stop their vehicles and prevent an accident. This is assuming they see you and don’t accidentally barrel over you while you are in a blind spot.

Remember: give truck drivers extra space!

Rule #4: Stay Back

Tailgating is another unsafe behavior, especially around big trucks. Even if you don’t cause a collision, you could be pushed underneath the vehicle in a crash. If you don’t want to slide underneath a large semi-truck, just remember to stay back (and leave extra space)!

Rule #5: Anticipate Wide Turns

Trucks have a turning radius of 55 feet, so they may swing wide or start a turn from the middle lane to give themselves more room. Don’t get in between a turning vehicle and the curb, and never try to “squeeze by” a turning truck. You should also be mindful of large trucks at intersections and stay behind the white line whenever possible. Trucks need extra space to make turns, so if you want to be safe, all you have to do is give it to them!

Rule #6: Be Patient

It can be frustrating to drive near large trucks, but your patience will go a long way. Don’t honk at slow trucks, weave in and out of traffic to get around them, or drive aggressively when large trucks are on the road. If you wait, you will have a chance to pass them sooner than you think.

Rule #7: Buckle Up

Make sure you and your passengers are wearing seatbelts before your vehicle hits the road and keep small children in car seats.

Rule #8: Stay Focused

Do not text and drive. If you need to lend your attention to something besides driving, simply pull over and handle it safely. Distracted driving is just as dangerous as driving under the influence.

Rule #9: Don’t Drive Fatigued

Drowsy driving is unsafe for all drivers. If you feel tired, find a safe place to take a nap or ask another driver to take a turn behind the wheel. A coffee break or a quick walk can also wake you up and help you avoid collisions, at least temporarily.

Rule #10: Never Drive Under the Influence

Drugs and alcohol can impair your judgement and reaction time, even if your medications are prescribed. If you’ve had anything to drink, play it safe and call a designated driver, cab, or rideshare service, and pay special attention to warning labels on your prescriptions.

What If the Truck Driver Messes Up?

Unfortunately, following all 10 rules of the road is not always enough to prevent truck accidents. If a truck driver decides to drive negligently, there’s very little you can do to avoid a collision.

For help with injuries or other losses after a truck accident, look no further than Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC. Our firm has been holding truck drivers and shipping companies accountable since 1999 and we would be honored to have you as a client.

TO get started, call us at (843) 968-0886 or request a free consultation online.