The length and width of large trucks can create special driving situations for both small and large vehicle drivers. Sharing the road with a truck means to be aware of its capabilities and limitations. The following suggestions can help drivers share the road comfortably and safely:
- Keep well back when following trucks. In good road and weather conditions, you should leave a space of at least three seconds between your vehicle and the truck in front of you-and an even greater space when conditions are poor. At intersections and in slow traffic, ensure you stay far enough back for other drivers to see you. This is particularly important for motorcyclists. When following at night, keep your headlights on low beam.
- Keep out of a truck’s blind spots. Trucks have a big blind spot directly behind them, so it’s a good idea to position your vehicle so it can be seen in the truck’s side mirrors. This will let the truck driver know you are there – drivers can then give you plenty of warning when they intend to stop or turn. Trucks also have large blind spots on both sides. On multi-lane roads or when passing, try to avoid these blind spots, or keep the time you spend in them to a minimum. Remember: if you can’t see the truck driver in their side mirror, the truck driver can’t see you!
- Passing: Be patient! Be patient when waiting to pass a truck. It takes several seconds longer to pass a truck on a level road than it does to pass a car, so it’s more important than usual to make sure there’s plenty of clear road ahead so you can safely complete the maneuver. Don’t come too close to the back of the truck before you move out to pass. It’s important to give yourself enough room to build up speed – but remember to keep your speed to a level that is safe for the conditions. You also need to give yourself enough room to return to your lane if there’s an oncoming hazard.
- Remember that it takes a truck longer to stop. Any motorist who cuts in front of a truck and suddenly slows or stops is at risk of causing a serious rear-end crash. Even if the truck driver manages to avoid a collision by swerving or braking quickly, this may cause a dangerous load shift which itself may lead to a severe crash.
- Be aware that turning trucks may cross the center line. Trucks often need to cross the center line when turning a corner-particularly when they’re making a right turn. A truck turning right may initially move to the left to give itself more room to complete the turn. It’s important to look at a truck’s indicators-not just its movements.
- Never try to pass a truck while it is turning. This includes passing on the right, too, because the back end of a truck can intrude across the lane during a turn. If you are stopped at an intersection and a truck is turning into the oncoming lane, you may want to back up or pull closer to the side of the road to give the truck more room.
- Watch out for air turbulence when passing oncoming trucks. When passing an oncoming truck, keep firm control of the steering wheel to counter the effect of air turbulence. If you’re a motorcyclist, move to the right of your lane to avoid the worst of the turbulence, but not so far that you risk being blown off the road. Also, change down a gear, so the bike has enough power to accelerate and steer into the wind gust.
- Watch out for splash and spray. Travelling behind or alongside trucks in wet conditions can be tricky. Splash and spray are thrown out and can make it difficult for you to see clearly. Many motorists consider this to be a nuisance and a danger, but unfortunately, there is no equipment available that could solve this problem effectively. However, there are some things you can do to help increase your safety: Keep the windshield clean and the windshield wipers and washers in good condition; if approaching an oncoming truck, turn on your wipers just before it passes you to ensure your windshield is wiped as soon as any spray is thrown onto it, and the time your visibility is obscured will be reduced.