One of the scary experiences on the road is driving along a tractor trailer, or a semi truck. Just look at the size and weight difference between your sedan or SUV and a semi truck and you will immediately realize how catastrophic a crash may be. Additionally, with a semi truck’s length, you may feel that the cargo is on the verge of tipping over when it is making a turn. Sounds terrible, right? Here I will discuss some tips on driving safely around these vehicles as well as how to give yourself comfortable space.
Be Aware: Blind Spot and Vision Differences
While driving around a semi truck shares many basic principles as driving around normal cars, such as paying attention, turn signaling, and giving space, there are crucial differences. The first prominent difference is a semi truck’s larger blind zone due to its larger size. Therefore, it is obvious that driving next to a semi truck for a long time is not ideal since it is difficult for the truck driver to notice you. This tip applies to passing: when passing a semi truck it is therefore not a good idea to stay next to the semi truck for a long period of time. Although the truck driver may be more experienced than you, you and your safety cannot rely on others.
Another concept to be aware of is the idea of visibility. While staying behind a sedan or SUV is okay, staying directly behind a semi truck will severely affect your vision as you cannot see ahead, possibly missing important traffic information such as detours, lights, and intersections. Therefore, do not tailgate – this will increase the visibility.
Keep in Mind: Braking Distance
Another important idea to be aware of is braking distance. Trucks are much more massive, meaning that they have a greater momentum according to physics since momentum equals mass times velocity. What this ultimately means is that semi trucks have a significantly longer braking distance, and, as a result, it is not a good idea to press down on your brake when there is a semi truck behind you as the truck will likely bump into you.
In general, leaving plenty of room between you and the semi truck will greatly improve your safety and by doing so you can avoid many possible dangers such as the truck tipping over or other ones described above.
Though this point is obvious, trucks turn differently from normal cars as they are carrying a massive cargo. As a result, their turns are wider and it is something that all drivers should keep in mind. This applies to many road situations such as double left or right turns, when it is not optimal to stay right next to a truck since the cargo may collide with your vehicle.
The final essential advice for driving around semi trucks is patience. Due to a semi truck’s weight, they usually drive slower than normal traffic and therefore it is crucial that you can be patient. Accidents are usually a result of reckless or rushed driving and you don’t want that to be you.
Works Cited and Image Credits