Most of us will never have to pilot a 60,000-pound semi truck. No doubt you've seen these huge tractor-trailers on the highway or navigating busy city streets, but many of us will never sit behind the wheel of these massive vehicles. Sharing the road with big trucks is a part of driving, and we think that looking at it from the truck driver's point of view can help keep everyone safe when we share the road.
Professional truck drivers are some of the most experienced drivers on the road. So it's no wonder that they might have a little advice to impart to their fellow car and motorcycle drivers.
When pulling hundreds or even thousands of pounds of cargo, any large truck's braking ability is significantly less than that of a car. It's simple physics. So keep this in mind if you're ever in front of a semi truck and need to brake.
The best way to avoid these situations is to keep a keen eye on your surroundings while you're driving. Don't cut in front of large semi trucks, and always travel at a safe distance to prevent a potentially dangerous situation.
While carrying large loads of cargo, semi trucks and tractor-trailers have to do a lot more work to get up to speeds most car drivers travel on the highway. Sometimes it can take a few miles to achieve the truck's necessary speed, so make sure you don't tailgate a slower truck.
It's also important to know that semi trucks and tractor-trailers are usually equipped with governors or speed limiters. The trucking company uses these governors to ensure truck drivers don't exceed the speeds safest for the truck they're driving.
If you find yourself behind a slower truck, carefully pass them or simply reduce your speed to keep a safe distance from them. Since you can't see what's in front of the truck, don't follow too closely. If they have to brake suddenly, you'll find yourself in a dangerous position. Trucks are sturdily built machines and rear-ending one is only going to cause serious damage to one vehicle – yours.
Passing a tractor-trailer requires a bit more forethought than simply passing another car. When you pass a car, it only takes a relatively short period of time to be out of their blind spots and into their field of vision. That's not the case with large trucks. They have much larger blind spots and it can take longer to pass them.
Ensure that the lane is clear from the back of the truck to the front of the truck and pass them swiftly. Never cut in front of them causing them to brake suddenly and unexpectedly. Do not linger in the lane next to a truck's trailer. This is a difficult spot for drivers to see you. If something were to cause them to swerve, you'd be stuck in a potentially deadly position. If you can't pass them immediately, then it's always safest to wait until you're clear to do so.
Tire blowouts happen occasionally with semi trucks and tractor-trailers. These massive tires hold an incredible amount of air. When they pop it can sound like a gunshot or a bomb going off. If you're in the space next to a truck, the force of the explosion could cause your car to be jolted. That's why it's important not to linger next to a truck.
Always maintain safe distances between your car and any truck on the road. Having the time to react after a tire blowout could save your life and the lives of those around you.
It's important to share the road, especially with drivers of big trucks. By keeping these simple points in mind, you can understand what truck drivers deal with on a daily basis.