The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has developed “Tips” for passenger vehicle drivers relating to their interactions with large trucks. The FMCA notes that large trucks do not have the maneuverability that passenger vehicles have on the road and have long stopping distances. This makes if more difficult for the large truck to react if a passenger vehicle makes an unsafe maneuver.
- Stay out of Blind Spots – Large trucks and buses have huge blind spots on all four sides. The FMCSA cautions that if you cannot see the driver in the vehicle side mirror, then the driver also cannot see you. Do not drive in his blind spot. Slow down or move ahead to stay visible and take extra care when merging.
- Pass Safely – Signal clearly then move into the left lane and accelerate so that you can get past the truck or bus safely and pass promptly. Do not linger in the truck’s blind spot. Make sure you can visualize the truck in your rearview mirror before you pull in front of the truck. Give it extra space. Do not pass trucks on downgrades where they tend to pick up speed. And never pass from the right lane. When a truck is passing, stay to the right and slow down. Give them extra space to change lanes or merge in from ramps.
- Do Not Cut it Close – Remember, trucks do not have the same brakes and stopping ability that passenger vehicles have. It is especially dangerous to “cut off” a commercial truck. If you move in too quickly you will likely be in a blind spot of the truck. Even if you are visible, the truck may not be able to slow down quickly enough to avoid a crash.
- Stay Back – Tailgating a truck puts you in a blind spot. Because trucks sit high off the ground, your vehicle may also slide under a truck in a crash. Stay back when stopped, particularly on an upgrade, where the truck might roll back.
- Anticipate Wide Turns – Trucks need extra turning room. They swing wide or may start a turn from the middle lane. Never try to squeeze by or get between a turning truck and the curb. Never “block the box” at an intersection or stop in front of the line so the truck can turn safely.
- Be Patient – Trucks need time to accelerate and sometimes used technology like speed limiters. Honking, driving aggressively, or weaving through traffic can cause dangerous distractions and crashes.