Key Tips to Driving Safely Around Trucks
Trucks play a major part in America’s economy, helping to support no less than 80% of the country’s communities and hauling countless tons of freight from one side of the nation to the other. Day in and day out, truckers help to keep the economy running and facilitate the flow of essential goods and popular products all over the US and elsewhere around the world.
It’s clear to see, therefore, that trucks are an essential part of life, and we couldn’t really cope without them. However, when you’re on the road and trucks are nearby, it can feel like a different story. Many people get nervous or anxious when driving near trucks, and it’s perfectly normal to feel that way, as these huge and heavy vehicles are involved in some of the worst auto accidents.
Trucks can do a lot of damage to smaller vehicles, and since they’re so big, heavy, hard to maneuver, and with a lot of blind spots too, the risks of those kinds of accidents can be quite high. So how do you drive safely around trucks and how can you reduce your own risks of being involved in a truck-related accident? Here are some tips to help out.
Remember the Basics
One of the key tips to driving near trucks is to simply remember the basic fundamentals of safe driving in general. Think back to your earliest driving lessons. It’s likely that your instructor first took the time to introduce you to some key safety concepts, such as using your mirrors to keep an eye on the road around you and using signals to let drivers know your intentions.
Too often, drivers start to forget these basic steps and allow bad habits to creep into their own methods and manners of driving. This can be really dangerous, especially when trucks are present. If you fail to use your signals and let a trucker know that you’re about to turn, for example, they won’t know what you’re doing and could accidentally drive right into you if they turn at the same time.
Keep Your Distance at All Times
Another essential tip for driving near trucks is to keep your distance. This is a good tip for safe driving in general, as distance allows you to move around a little more if you suddenly need to respond or react to an unexpected stop or upcoming hazard, and it reduces the risk of things like rear-end collisions.
It’s really important to keep your distance when trucks are present, as they’re much less agile and maneuverable than smaller vehicles, and it can take a lot longer for truckers to respond to changes on the roads around them and avoid colliding with other cars that get too close. Stay far from trucks at all times to give yourself that safe maneuvering space.
Keep Your Eyes on the Road and Respond Accordingly
Another good tip for safe driving, in general, is to keep your eyes on the road around you, watching out for hazards, and being ready to respond and react if any dangerous situations present themselves. Once again, this is particularly important when trucks are present, because, as explained earlier on, it tends to take them longer to react and adjust.
Imagine if you’re driving behind a truck and it starts to rain, for example. Usually, when the rain starts to fall, it’s recommended for all drivers to reduce their speed, as brake times are longer on slippery surfaces and the risk of collisions can be higher. By responding to the rain promptly and reducing your speed right away, you’ll make the whole road safer for yourself and other vehicles around you, including trucks.
Understand Blind Spots and Stay Out of Them
One of the biggest problems with trucks is that they have a lot of blind spots. On an 18-wheeler, for example, you can find blind spots directly in front of the truck, behind it, and on both sides of it. If a car is in any of these particular areas, the truck driver won’t be able to see it and could change lanes or make a turn and drive right into it, and this is how some very bad accidents occur.
It’s important for other road users to understand this issue, knowing where the blind spots on a truck are and trying to stay out of them as much as possible. You might have to pass through blind spots now and then when passing a truck or driving near one, but you shouldn’t spend any more time in them than necessary, and use your lights in dark conditions to make yourself seen.
Avoid All Distractions
Distracted driving is one of the biggest problems on US roads today, and it causes a terrible number of accidents, injuries, and even deaths. This happens when a driver loses focus on the road and gets distracted by something else, and there are many possible things that might distract you in your car, like your phone, food, drinks, radio, GPS, and even your passengers.
If you allow yourself to get distracted, you might not notice something on the road ahead of you, you might fail to notice a truck’s turn signal as it tries to change lanes, or you may not react in time to some other sort of hazard or threat. It’s absolutely imperative, therefore, to avoid distractions of all kinds. Always make sure to pull over safely if you need to do anything that could distract you, like making a call or eating a snack.
Driving near trucks can be quite scary and intimidating, and it’s certainly true that trucks can cause some terrible accidents and be involved in some of the worst collisions, but in many cases, it’s not really the trucker’s fault. A lot of truck-related accidents are caused by people failing to keep their distance or spending too much time in truck blind spots. Follow the tips above to improve your driving when trucks are around and keep yourself and your passengers safe.