The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) reports that there were 480,000 truck and bus accidents in 2016. Although the number is less than that of the overall number of car crashes, injuries and fatalities are far greater in a collision with a large truck because of its mass and weight.
There are some inherent limitations operating a big rig that car drivers need to be aware of. These include trucks blind spots, their stopping distance and their limited maneuverability because of their size.
Here are some safety tips from FMCSA for you to follow when driving around or near large commercial vehicles.
Safety tips from FMCSA when driving around large commercial vehicles
- Blind Spots or “No Zones”: A commercial vehicle driver has limited visibility (blind spots) on all four. Smaller vehicle drivers need to be aware of this and stay out of these zones as much as possible. For example, do not drive along the side of a big truck any longer than you need to. In addition, stay out of blind spots when a truck is turning, backing up, or changing lanes. Remember that large commercial vehicles need a longer following distance to see a vehicle behind them. So if you can’t see the truck driver in his or her side mirrors, the truck driver can’t see you.
- Passing Safely: When you are ready to pass, signal clearly, and then move into the left lane, accelerating so that you can get past the truck promptly. Make sure the truck is visible in your rear mirror before you pull in front of it. Never pass a truck on a downgrade, where large trucks pick up speed because of their weight and size.
- When a truck wants to pass: Don’t speed up to prevent a truck from passing you. Not only can this cause some road rage, but it can be dangerous. Get into the right lane and slow down a bit to make it easier for the truck to pass. This will help the trucker pass smoothly and keep you out of his blind spot.
- Trucks and long stopping distances: Stopping times for large rigs are much greater than the average car. The heavier the load, the longer the distance it will take for the truck to stop. Never suddenly cut in front of a truck, as it greatly reduces the truck’s ability to stop quickly. If he or she had to suddenly brake, you could get rear-ended.
- Tailgating: Never tailgate a truck. This places you right in one of the significant blind spots. If the truck has to suddenly stop, it is quite possible that your vehicle can slide right under it.
- Trucks make wide turns: Large commercial vehicles need to make wide turns so if a truck is turning right, never try to beat the truck driver to the turn, or you can get squeezed between the truck and whatever else might be to your right.
Being educated about the limitations of large commercial vehicles will make you a safer driver. Be sure to educate your kids too, as the next generation of drivers is most dear to you.
Group Matrix Blog – November 12, 2017 – by Sharon Bowles