Trucks and other commercial vehicles can be a potential danger on the road. In addition to their sheer size, trucks also take longer to respond than other vehicles. All too often, this results in serious motor vehicle accidents. The risks are even greater in the winter.
Automobiles and other smaller vehicles need to take extra care when driving near semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers and other large vehicles in the winter season. Even under perfect driving conditions, a large truck needs about 525 feet to come to a complete stop when going 65 miles per hour. Compare this to a car or small truck, which needs about 316 feet to stop at the same speed. Snow, ice or even rain on the road’s surface significantly increases the required breaking distance for all vehicles.
Truckers ask us to be aware of these tips
Below are five tips for safely sharing the road with truck drivers, especially during the winter:
- Avoid truck blind spots – Trucks have much larger blind spots than smaller vehicles. Try to avoid lingering at the immediate front, back or sides of these larger vehicles. If weather is bad, factor that into the truck driver’s ability to see you.
- Don’t cut in front of large trucks – As mentioned previously, trucks take longer to brake in an emergency. You also run the risk of merging quickly into the truck driver’s blind spot. And when roads are slippery, the potential for an accident is greatly increased.
- Stay further back – Tailgating a truck risks you entering the driver’s blind spot and puts you at greater risk for an accident if you need to brake quickly. In slick or icy conditions, it is a good idea to double or triple the distance between you and the truck.
- Give trucks extra space – Given their size, trucks need more room to safely turn, pass, change lanes or merge onto the freeway. Remain patient and allow them the room they need to operate, particularly in wintry weather.
- Pass safely – Make sure you are far enough behind the truck before passing to avoid the driver’s blind spots. Signal clearly and pass in the left lane only. Accelerate at a pace where you can safely get out of the blind spot as soon as possible, and leave enough room before merging back in front of the truck. Add extra reaction time and distance in winter conditions.
At any time of year, especially winter, it is vital to understand how to drive safely around large commercial vehicles. Doing so will help to keep everyone safer on the road.