Sharing the road with larger vehicles

When driving on a highway next or near a semi-trailer truck, you are taking a considerable amount of risk if you are not aware of the larger vehicle's limitations and how to share the road safely with those type of vehicles.

semi trailer trucks

It is important to note that crashes involving cars and semi-trailer trucks can be very dangerous. Statistics shows that there is a substantial chance of fatality of the driver and passengers of the car that is involved in a collision with a semi-trailer truck.

Below are a few important facts that you should know about larger vehicles such as semi-trailer trucks, buses or RVs:

A larger vehicle will require extra distance to stop
It will take much longer for a larger vehicle to slow down or come to a complete stop. So, if you are driving in front of a semi-trailer truck, leave plenty of space between your car and the semi-trailer truck behind you and do not make a sudden stop. Always show your intention of slowing down by gently pushing your brake showing that you are slowing down.

Never suddenly pull in front of a larger vehicle, the driver will not have enough time to stop and may hit your car, and that can be very dangerous.

A larger vehicle has several blind spots around it
A larger vehicle such as a semi-trailer truck or a bus has long blind spots on both sides of the vehicle and also in front and back of the vehicle called "No-Zones". So, avoid staying on the No-Zones areas of a larger vehicle because the driver of the larger vehicle cannot see you and it creates a dangerous driving condition.

A larger vehicle needs much more space to maneuver or to make a right turn
Larger vehicles such as semi-trailer trucks need a lot of space to maneuver, especially when making right turns. And in order for semi-trailer trucks to make wide right turns,  they usually move to the left or between the lanes, so they have enough space to make right turns.

If you are behind a semi-trailer truck and noticed that he/she turned on the right signal and is getting ready to make a right turn,  stop and allow the truck make its wide right turn. Do not try to pass the truck to the right during the right turn or the truck may not see you and squeeze your vehicle. 

Be careful and patient when passing and or when they pass you
Be extra careful and always pass on the left when passing a larger vehicle.  Be aware that it will take longer and requires more space to pass a larger vehicle.

Especially if you are on a two-way road, make sure the road is clear for a long distance ahead from upcoming traffic and to allow much more time and space to pass the large vehicle. Also, after you pass the larger vehicle,  look to the front of the larger vehicle and look over your shoulder to make sure that it is clear before returning to your lane.

When a truck passes you, keep your hands firmly on the wheel. A wind gust from the passing truck could push your car to the side.

Be mindful of large delivery trucks
Large delivery trucks may need to block the street (especially in the commercial and industrial zones) in order to backup to a driveway or parking lot. Watch out for the trucks that are backing up and be mindful of the situation, stop and leave a lot of room for the truck to back up to its destination. Do not try to pass a large truck that is trying to back up to a driveway or parking lot.

It is easy to misjudge the speed and distance of a semi-trailer truck
Be mindful that you are more likely to misjudge the speed and distance of a semi-trailer truck because of its size.  They usually move ahead and approach you much faster than you anticipated.

Always consider this fact when you are making any traffic maneuvers that require predicting the speed and distance of a larger vehicle. For example:

If you are making an unprotected left turn at an intersection, an oncoming semi-trailer truck may approach you much faster than you anticipated, so you better stay safe and make sure he/she passes before pulling in front of the truck for making a left turn.

If you are driving on a two-way road and you notice an upcoming semi-trailer truck is passing another vehicle, slow down and move to the right of the lane as much as you can because he/she may reach you faster than you anticipated.

When calculating the distance and time to pass a larger vehicle safely, always consider that it will take longer to pass a larger vehicle because they are driving faster than you think.

Do not follow a larger vehicle too closely
The driver of a semi-trailer truck or a bus may not see you if you follow him/her too closely; this may create a dangerous situation for you especially if the larger vehicle needs to stop suddenly or backup.

Be careful of semi-trailer trucks on a steep downhill roads
On the steep downhill roads, the semi-trailer trucks may drive much faster and may lose their ability to stop.

So, when you are driving on a steep downhill road,  avoid driving in front of a semi-trailer truck and try to stay away from a semi-trailer truck in this type of road condition.

There are ramps built for semi-trailer trucks that have lost control of their vehicle called “runaway truck ramps”. Never park at the entrance or at or near the runaway truck ramps. Parking at or near a runaway truck ramp can be deadly for you and other vehicles.

Try to stay away from semi-trailer trucks during the bad weather or bad road condition
When there is a bad weather or bad road condition, the semi-trailer trucks have less visibility and have less control of their vehicles.

If you drive next to a semi-trailer truck during the heavy rain or wet road condition, your vehicle will be constantly splashed which will reduce your visibility and a lot of water can cause your vehicle to skid which creates a dangerous driving condition. Also, when the roads are slippery, it will be much harder for a semi-trailer truck to slow down, stop or control his/her vehicle. So try to stay away from larger vehicles during the bad weather or bad road condition.