Driving around big trucks has dangers that most car drivers have no clue about. If you are driving a car or small passenger vehicle there are some things that truck drivers cant stand and/or make their jobs much more dangerous.
Truck drivers are out there because they have to be, this is their profession. These men and women spend more time on the road than most of us will our whole lives.
There are some specific things that non truck drivers can do to make things a lot easier for truck drivers. In this article I highlight 15 safe driving tips around big trucks that will make your commute safer and less stressful.
If you are a truck driver reading this please consider sending this to others or sharing it on social media so that trucks and cars can coexist a little more peacefully.
1. Merging Correctly
The number one complaint by truck drivers is people merging without enough speed. If you are merging onto a roadway or highway and see a large semi truck already in the lane you are merging into please try to get as much speed possible so that the semi truck driver doesn’t have to slow down.
Don’t get to the end of the lane and nearly stop to wait for an opening. If you do this you are going to piss off a lot of truckers. Why? Because truckers often (not always) get paid by how many miles they drive.
If a semi truck is moving at 68 mph and has to slow down because you don’t know how to merge that truck driver is going to need a lot more time and space to get back to 68 mph again.
Please, help truck drivers out by merging quickly or get out of the way so they don’t have to slow down much.
2. Pass Them And Move On
If you are going to pass a semi truck please do it with authority and move on. Don’t drive next to them for several miles because you are probably in their blind spot.
Another thing, when you do pass them please don’t slow down. Make sure that you pass them at a speed that is enough so that the truck driver doesn’t have to slow down or try to pass you. Again, for many truck drivers time is money.
If you slow them down they are making less money. Moral of the story here is to pass with authority and move on.
3. Driving Isn’t A Race
Large trucks are often speed governed which prevents them from going over a predetermined speed. It is the fastest speed the truck is allowed to travel. It won’t/cannot go any faster. Some trucks are governed at 65 mph and some are not governed at all. Depends on the truck.
Most semi trucks that you see on the highways are governed to go no faster than 60 something mph. Keep this in mind when you are riding the rear of a truck expecting the driver to speed up. They probably can’t go any faster. If they could they probably would.
4. No High Beams At Night
Don’t drive next to big trucks at night with your high beam headlights on. There is a good chance you are blinding the driver or making it really difficult for them to see and focus. If you do this you might get a truck driver that will adjust their mirrors so that the light is shining right back at you. They are trying to send you a message that you need to turn off your high beams.
5. They Need Space
Give large trucks space. The brakes on a huge tractor trailer/semi truck don’t work the same as the brakes on your car. Stopping a car that is 3,000 lbs. is totally different from stopping a semi truck that can be anywhere from 30,000 lbs to 80,000 lbs.
Also, make sure you are not following too closely behind them.
Following too closely is dangerous. If that semi truck needs to stop quickly guess where you are going to end up? Be sure to duck so your head is still intact.
The steering and handling of a large truck is way different than a car. Don’t expect the truck to be able to maneuver the way your car does. It doesn’t respond to anything the way a car does. Trucks drive straight really well, that’s about it. Asking a heavy truck to maneuver like a small car when traveling 65 mph on a highway is wishful thinking. It won’t happen. Don’t expect it to.
6. Watch Out For Wide Turns
If you come across a large truck making a wide turn please stay away. Give the driver time to complete the turn safely. Once the drive clears the intersection you can continue driving. You are better off waiting for a truck to complete a turn than getting hit by one.
7. Driving In Front Of A Truck
If you are in front of a large truck give them as much space between your car and them as possible. If you see the truck in your rear view mirror riding your tail you need to move over and let it pass. Don’t expect the truck to change lanes. It’s easier for you in a car to change lanes than the truck.
8. Backing Up
Backing up a semi truck is difficult. As a matter of fact many truck drivers will tell you this is the most difficult part of their job.
If you come across a truck that is backing up please give them time to do it correctly. Yeah, this might mean stopping and waiting for a minute or two but it makes the drivers job much easier. Also, give them space to complete it.
9. The Blinking Turn Signal: Respect It
When you see a truck trying to merge with its blinker/signal on do them a favor and turn your headlights on and off so they know you are going to let them merge. Allowing a truck to merge is one of the kindest things you can do for a truck driver.
Merging and lane changes for large trucks is a difficult task, don’t make it any harder than it already is. Note that if you don’t let them merge they are still going to get into your lane by forcing you to move. Be courteous to them and they will be courteous to you.
10. This Is Their Job
Remember, a truck driver is out there trying to make a living. Their profession is to drive trucks. Their truck is their office. Try to keep this in mind the next time you come across a truck driver.
Don’t make their job anymore difficult than it already is.
Treat them the same way you would want to be treated at work. Would you want someone to come to where you work and make things difficult for you? Probably not.
11. No Drafting!
Drafting is driving close to the rear of a truck so that wind resistance is reduced. By doing this a car can get better gas mileage.
Never ever draft behind a truck! When you are behind a huge truck the driver cannot see you. This is a recipe for disaster. If the truck blows a tire or has to brake suddenly you are going to slam into the rear end of it. This won’t be pretty.
Drafting behind a truck is one thing that every truck driver would agree is very dangerous. If you are following too closely and an accident does happen it is usually the fault of the person following too closely.
Your life isn’t worth the amount of gas money you will save. End of story.
12. Put Down The Phone
Your phone should be out of your hands when driving. This is smart driving regardless of the types of vehicles that are around you.
13. Blind Spots? A Lot Of Them
Trucks have more blinds spots than people think. They definitely have more, and bigger, blind spots than cars.
These are spots where you don’t want to linger for a long time because the driver might not even know you are there. The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Information) has a great graphic (right) showing the blind spots of semi truck drivers.
14. Give Them A Break, They Are Trying To Go Fast Too
Truck drivers want to go fast. Well, they want to get as close to their governed (maximum) speed that they are allowed to drive at.
The sooner and longer they stay at this speed the better it is for them. Give them a break though, they have a really heavy truck that takes a long time to accelerate. Keep in mind too that when they slow down just a little it may take them several miles to get back to their governed speed.
15. Please Be Patient
Driving a truck is different than driving a car. Give truck drivers time to do what they need to do and they will be out of your way,
If you are a trucker or you know someone that does a lot of driving send this list to them or share it on social media so that truckers and cars can coexist a little more peacefully.