Tips Car Drivers Should Know About Sharing the Road With Trucks
To many car drivers, trucks are a bit of an enigma: they’re big, they can be slow to pass, and they seem to have their own unique way of getting around. Those of us truck drivers may fully understand the logic behind wide right turns and engine regulators, but try conveying that insight to a four-wheeler on the interstate and something inevitably seems to get lost in translation. We asked our drivers what they wished that more people knew about sharing the road with trucks.. Here are their top responses:
- We Worry About Our Blindspots
Truck drivers position their mirrors as strategically as possible to minimize their blind spot, but a big rig with no rear-view is going to have some difficulty seeing everything around it. Most trucks feature a sign on the back of their semi-trailer, so that you can see where their blind spots are, but if not, a good rule of thumb is that if you can’t see the truck’s mirrors, then the driver can’t see you. Do us all a favor and keep out of our blind spot; it’ll go a long way toward helping us keep a safe distance.
- We’re No Gymnasts
As much as we’d like to be able to pass quickly, or to make a sharp turn, it’s just not possible for us to do so safely in most situations. If we wanted to U-Turn, for example, we’d need at least 55 ft of clearance – that’s about four highway lanes without a divider! If you see a truck indicating a right turn from the center lane, assume that it’s not a mistake and give the vehicle tons of space; sometimes we need to take the extra lane to make sure that we don’t clear-cut a lamppost on our way around a narrow corner.
- Change Takes Time
Want to change lanes? That could take a few miles. Traffic ahead and need to slow down? Better start braking as soon as possible. Hauling a big load means making slow, gradual changes – both for increasing and decreasing speeds. Car drivers sometimes seem to forget that we can’t stop on a dime, so when they cut in front of us and then slam on their brakes, they’re setting themselves up for trouble. Give us a generous amount of space to make our moves safely, and we all benefit from safer roads.
- We’re Passing as Quickly as We Can
Our engines have regulators that limit how quickly we can drive, and that sometimes means that it can take a while for us to increase our lead over another truck by enough distance to pass them safely. We appreciate your patience. Also, if you see us in a left lane and we’re indicating to get back to the right, please let us in. Trust us: we don’t want to hog your passing lane any more than you want us to; we just want to keep the fast lane clear so that you can pass us when you decide to do so, and that’s difficult to do when cars keep passing us on the right.
- Please Be Consistent
We understand that no one likes being stuck behind a truck, but please don’t pass us just to slow down as soon as you take the lead. Truck drivers use cruise control to maintain fuel efficiency, and it can take a long time to regain our speed if we’ve had to slow down to match a driver ahead of us. It’s also a huge safety hazard, especially if we have to stop suddenly. Give us plenty of room when you merge in front, and please try to maintain a consistent speed – especially if you’re determined to stay at the front of the pack.
- We’re Intelligent Folks, and We Love What We Do
Somehow, people seem to have gotten the idea that truck drivers aren’t intelligent, and like most stereotypes, this one simply isn’t true. As with any profession, truck drivers come from all walks of life, and from all backgrounds and skill sets. Truck drivers complete additional training, and often apprenticeships, so by the time they head out on their own they’re already very familiar with their sizeable vehicles. The average age for truck drivers is also higher than the average for the general work force, which means that they also have a wealth of experience behind them. And when asked if they enjoy their job, over 85% of truck drivers surveyed responded affirmatively, compared to less than half of the general population.
Trucks are the gentle giants of the road; they may move slowly and behave differently than the rest of the vehicles on the road, but when it comes to knowing the intricacies of the road, there’s no one quite like their driver.