Driving alongside semi-trucks is a daily part of life on California roads. As a driver, you may become so accustomed to sharing the roads with large trucks, buses and more that you may disregard critical safety tips for driving alongside a vehicle much larger than your own.
Accidents involving large or commercial vehicles can be severe, resulting in catastrophic or fatal injuries like broken bones, traumatic brain injury (TBI), paralysis, injuries to the neck or spinal cord and more. In heavy traffic, poor weather, road construction, a hilly route or more, driving alongside trucks can be even riskier. What should drivers consider when approaching a commercial vehicle?
Five tips for safe driving alongside large trucks
Large trucks or buses are much different to maneuver on roadways than a smaller passenger vehicle. To enhance your safety and the safety of others on California roads, consider the following tips when sharing the road with a semi-truck or another large vehicle:
- Leave extra space in between your vehicles. With such a substantial difference in weight, trucks need more time to both accelerate and come to a full stop. Avoid sudden braking in front of trucks and tailgating when behind.
- Avoid “no zones.” According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), trucks have four substantial blind spots. When in doubt, assume that if you cannot see the driver in their side mirrors, your vehicle is not visible to them.
- Watch out for wide turns. Commercial trucks make wide left and right turns, requiring an additional lane or two of space. Keep traffic flowing by giving the truck the space it needs and ensuring your vehicle is consistently visible.
- Be patient. Driving behind a truck can be frustrating, especially when running late, during poor weather, in road construction or more. However, avoid aggressive driving tactics. Remain calm and give the truck the space it requires.
- Exercise caution when passing. Passing a truck can be perilous, both in staying out of the blind spots of the truck and avoiding other oncoming traffic. Signal your move well in advance and avoid sudden braking in front of the truck.
Defensive driving is especially important when approaching a big rig or other commercial vehicle. Pay close attention, anticipate the actions of the truck driver and react accordingly.