Share the Road with Trucks: Safety Tips for Navigating Truck Blind Spots
If you spend any amount of time on the nation’s highways and interstates, you might be forgiven for starting to think that the 18-wheelers are taking over the world. They do seem to be everywhere, and sharing the roads with these huge vehicles sometimes can be an issue. The problem involves more than just their size and heft. The real danger lies in their blind spots.
The truth is that many drivers have come to believe that because they sit at greater heights, truck drivers enjoy a rarefied view of the world and a miraculous awareness of all other traffic around them. It is their trust in this erroneous belief that has landed many passenger car drivers in the hospital. If you share the road with any of these monstrous vehicles, it is vital to remain aware of their blind spots.
When driving among semis and other oversize vehicles, here are some things to keep in mind:
– Those gigantic mirrors don’t give truckers too much information. While they may provide a slightly larger field of vision, they do nothing to illuminate the so-called no-zones or blind spots that extend long distances to the back, the sides and even the front of the roadway around them. If you can’t see the truck’s mirrors, then the trucker can’t see you.
– Despite their numerous strong points, trucks fail in one vital respect: Their maneuvering ability amounts to nearly zero. They may see you suddenly emerging from the no-zone, but if they’ve already begun a lane change of their own, they may not be able to avoid you.
– When it comes to blind spots, the trucker must contend with more than you might think. While two blind spots extend backwards as you would expect, the other blind spots reach out in front. As the driver of a passenger vehicle, it is your responsibility to stay well clear of these locations.
– The larger the truck, the more room its driver will need to turn. If you see his right flasher begin to blink, expect him to veer into the left lane before making his turn to the right. In addition, the back of his vehicle will turn on a sharper angle, and regardless of how wide its front swings out, its rear wheels could easily overrun the curb. The lesson here is simple: When a truck driver signals an upcoming turn, hit the brakes and back off.
Tips for Safely Passing Trucks
When you drive along closely behind a truck, you do more than simply hide your presence from its driver. You also cut your forward visibility down to zero. If something should force the larger vehicle to make an emergency stop, would you have the time and space to do the same?
The idea is either to remain at least 20 car-lengths back from the truck or to pass it in a hurry. To safely remove yourself from the no-zone, always be sure to:
– Pass on the left. When it comes to overtaking trucks, the left lane is the only safe choice while the right side, sadly, can be suicide.
– Determine when it’s safe to proceed, then honk your horn and go. You want to let the trucker know you’re passing, and you want to get out of his blind spot as fast as you possibly can.
– Don’t cut back in until the entire front of the larger vehicle has made an appearance in your rearview mirror, and whatever you do, keep moving. It is vital to maintain your speed until you are well ahead of the truck. Remember that while these larger vehicles do have talents, stopping on a dime isn’t one of them.
When a Truck Accident Has Already Happened
If you’ve already had an unfortunate highway encounter with an oversized truck, you are more likely to have landed in the hospital than you are to have walked away. However, you may be interested to learn that not all such accidents are the fault of the passenger car. If the trucker or the company for whom he works bear any degree of responsibility, you are likely entitled to compensation.