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Stay Safe on the Road with Big Rigs

Safe on the road with Big Trucks

Did you know, approximately, 5,000 people in passenger vehicles die every year in automotive accidents involving semi-trucks? An accident with a large commercial truck can be devastating. Unfortunately, many drivers do not understand how to safely maneuver around large trucks.

Use these tips to keep you and your passengers safe when sharing the road with big rigs.

Hazards of Driving Near Large Trucks

  • Truck’s size and weight
  • The risk of underride/override
  • Slow stopping times and distance required to stop
  • Trucks have lots of “no-zones” aka, blind spots
  • Splash and spray
  • Wide turning radiuses

Tips to Stay Safe on the Road with Big Rigs

Avoid driving in the “no-zones” (or blind spots). Just like with cars, large commercial trucks have blind spots, too, where they cannot see your car.

  • 20 feet in front of the cab
  • 30 feet from the rear of the trailer
  • To the left, from the cab back to about the middle of the trailer, one lane wide
  • To the right, from the cab at an angle to the area behind the trailer, extending two lanes wide

The right side of a large commercial truck is the largest blind spot for the driver.

Allow extra space. In general, semi-trucks and large commercial trucks need more space for changing lanes, turning and other driving maneuvers. They can take up to 55 feet to make a turn. And, they definitely need more time to break.

  • Trucks need space to turn. If a truck is turning right, they need quite a bit of extra space to safely and properly turn the truck.
  • If you notice a truck trying to merge into your lane, give them ample space or even move to the next lane to your left.

Keep a safe distance. In addition to allowing extra space for merging, swerving and maneuvering, keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the truck. Driving close to large trucks puts you at a greater risk of injury should the truck need to make a sudden stop or have a tire blow out.

Pass on the trucker’s left side. Pass quickly and cautiously on the left side. You do not want to ride beside them for too long because if they need to move over, you may be in a blind spot where the driver cannot see your vehicle. As you are passing, make sure you can see the truck in your rearview mirror before moving back into the lane in front of it. Of course, when a truck passes you, stay in the right lane and slow your speed.

Do not cut off a large truck. Semis have a much longer stopping distance. It can take up to two football fields when traveling 65 mph for a truck to stop. Best practice is to make sure you can see the entire front end of a the truck before merging in front of it.

Stay alert and drive defensively. It is important to remain alert at all times when driving. Pay attention to vehicle locations, traffic flow, and vehicle signals. Avoid the following activities:

  • Texting
  • Talking on the phone
  • Reaching around your car
  • Reading
  • Working

Dim your bright lights. Try not to use your high beams at night when you are behind or passing a large truck. Bright lights can temporarily blind a driver causing him to swerve and/or have an accident.

Always use your signal. As we have said, trucks require more time to react so its important to signal the driver giving at least 3 seconds or more lead time before changing lanes. Properly using your signal gives a truck driver time to safely move or allow your car to switch lanes.

Always drive the speed limit. No matter what vehicles you are sharing the road with, always drive the speed limit.


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