It’s no secret that there is a huge misconception that four-wheel drivers pose less risk on the road than commercial drivers. Survey results by a trucking technology company, posted a few weeks ago by TRUCKERS NEWS, showed that 83% of drivers believe this to be true. Although this may be the case for some CDL Drivers, the idea that most of the truck driver population are a higher risk is very misleading.
A lot of people who have a career in driving trucks frequently witness mistakes non-commercial drivers make when sharing the road with an 18-wheeler. For the benefit and safety of all drivers on the road, here are some tips for driving safely around tractor trailers.
Stay out of the blind spot areas, so a truck driver can be aware that you are there. Blind spots may happen within 25 feet directly behind and 10 feet in front of the 18-wheeler. This includes the area diagonally back from the passenger side front to the rear; the right two traveling lanes and diagonally back from the driver side front; and a few feet along the side of the trailer. If a truck driver does not realize you’re there, a sudden lane change could end up being a tragic event.
Remember Stopping Distance
The weight of an 18-wheeler is significantly more than that of a standard vehicle. This additional weight, combined with higher speed, increases the required stopping distance. A fully loaded tractor trailer traveling highway speed requires at least 500 feet to come to a complete stop. Non-commercial drivers need to keep this in mind when crossing in front of a tractor trailer. Coming to an abrupt stop in front of a commercial vehicle without enough distance between, could result in a very unfortunate circumstance.
When a Driver Helps You Out, Give Something Back
In areas of high traffic volume, merging onto the highway can be a frustrating situation. When a truck driver crosses into the left lane from the right lane, it means they are giving you room to merge. It isn’t the easiest process for a big rig driver to make a lane change, so if they help you out, help them out in return by adjusting your speed to let him or her back over.
Trucker Code is not Just for Truckers
Almost all drivers have witnessed an 18-wheeler with the blinker on, trying to make a lane change. If you come across a tractor trailer driver in this situation, signal to that his or her trailer is clear of your bumper, and it is safe for them to get over in front of you. Keep in mind the type of signaling you are using. Most truck drivers view a flashing of the lights as a “go ahead” signal. Flashing your lights to let a driver know that it is not okay to go ahead, can be very misleading. In simple words, be smart about your signals.
Remember that for truck drivers, being on the road is a job. The most important part of their job description is driving safely and defensively. Commercial drivers are in a constant state of being alert, looking ahead, and avoiding obstacles or aggressive driver situations. This kind of work takes experience and can be exhausting. Help the people who make our daily life and luxuries possible, by driving politely, being alert, and being patient. As four-wheel drivers, we cannot expect our commercial drivers to carry solely, the responsibility of being safe. Everyone working together, will collectively create a better travel environment on our roads and highways.