In today’s busy world, many of us are constantly on the run. With the constant go, go, go, it is easy to forget about those not so gentle giants we share the road with – semi-trucks. It is almost certain that whether you’re traveling through town or on the highway, you will be in the company of these vehicles. Because of this certainty, I want to share a few tips that will hopefully make your commute a little safer.
Blind Spots Are Real. Semi-trucks are GIANT! There is a cab, plus an additional 53’ trailer attached to it. Absent super powers, it is impossible for a semi-truck driver to see everything around it. Those spaces where the driver can’t see are blind spots. In other words, they can’t see you! As you can see in the photograph below, semi-trucks have four major blind spots:
Because of these blind spots, cars should avoid steady cruising next to semi-trucks. It is also important to always try and pass on the left side. As the above photograph shows, the blind spot to the right of the semi is substantially greater than that on the left side.
The first thing cars should do is assure it is safe to enter into the left lane. Once you have determined it is safe, signal that you intend to go around and move into the passing lane. Then as quickly and safely as possible, continue forward until you are ahead of the semi-truck and signal that you are moving back into the right lane. A good tip for safely clearing a semi-truck is to look in your rearview mirror and make sure you can see both headlights before moving into the right lane.
Giants Can’t Stop On A Dime. Unlike cars, semi-trucks cannot make sudden stops. As a reminder, semi-trucks are GIANT! Like I mentioned earlier, most are hauling 53’ trailers, which are likely loaded with goods. That is a lot of weight to slow down. This is important to remember any time you are pulling on or off a roadway.
If a semi-truck is traveling behind you, make sure you give plenty of notice before pulling off or exiting. Early signaling and gradual braking will alert a semi-truck driver of your intent and allow them to take the appropriate steps to slow their rig.
When entering the roadway, be mindful of the distance between you and the semi. Semi-trucks do not handle sudden changes in acceleration and deceleration with ease. If there is any doubt, WAIT for the semi to pass before pulling onto the road.
Giants Need Space. It is not uncommon for semi-trucks to have tires blowout. While the semi can continue down the road, the remnants of the tire can quickly cause a car to wreck.
Therefore, maintaining some distance from the rear of a semi will allow you more time to react if necessary.
The Giant Lean. Even giants can be forced to lean with a sudden gust of wind. When traveling on a windy day, semi trailers can be pushed to one side or the other. A semi-truck and trailer can suddenly veer into your lane without warning. Just another reason to avoid traveling directly next to semi-trucks, other than when passing.
Be patient. Semi-trucks are heavy and just as they take time to slow down, they also take time to speed up. I know we all get in a hurry but getting frustrated at a semi for moving slower will not do anything except raise your blood pressure.
Whether rolling down the highway or through town, always be aware of those not so gentle giants we share the road with. Did I mention semi-trucks are GIANT?? Such size and weight are capable of causing substantial harm. Implementing a few tips into your daily drive will help keep you rolling safely with the giants.