HOW TO BE A FRIEND ON THE ROADTruck drivers keep America moving. Without them, our everyday necessities would be nearly impossible to attain.
We all know how frustrating it can be to be stuck behind a commercial truck.
They drive slower, stop slower… sometimes you want to just lay on your horn and tell them to get out of the way. We get it.
But did you know that they get frustrated by us, too?
They have a birds-eye view when it comes to distracted drivers. Whether it’s cell phone usage, eating, reaching around the car for something… they see it all. They also have plenty of first-hand experience with irritated drivers – cutting them off in traffic, passing them and braking immediately after, not using their turn signals, pulling out onto the road in front of them with insufficient time for the truck driver to brake.
We do a lot of things that are not only frustrating to truck drivers, but are also extremely dangerous for both of us. To avoid any preventable accidents, along with saving some mental sanity, here are ten helpful tips on how to be a friend on the road:
1. Try to stay out of blind spots.
The graphic to the right shows the different blind spots for truck drivers.
Trucks have deep blind spots behind and on the sides of their trucks. The rule of the road goes, “If you can’t see a truck’s side mirrors – they can’t see you!”
2. Use your turn signals.
We cannot stress this enough. Use your turn signals!
Any indication as to what you will be doing on the road helps truck drivers decipher their next move as well. This simple, mindless task helps truck drivers more than you might think!
3. Try to avoid passing a truck on their right side.
A trucker’s largest blind spot is on the right side of their vehicle. Chances are, that if a truck is driving in the left lane, they are either passing a slower-moving vehicle or avoiding a road hazard in front of them.
It’s best to give the truck driver some time (and space) to move back to the right lane for slower traffic, than to risk not being seen in their blind spot.
4. Never tailgate a truck.
While you may think tailgating or “drafting” behind a truck is saving you mpg, it’s actually putting you at a higher risk for accident. Things can happen fast on the road – things that you might not be able to see if you follow a truck too closely. Passenger vehicles crowding or following too closely behind trucks is one of the top causes of accidents among commercial vehicles.
5. Make room for wide turns.
Truck drivers have a longer load than the average driver on the road, which means they can’t maneuver as easily as cars.
Sometimes, truckers have to crowd into the left lane to safely turn right. Pay close attention and give truckers plenty of room so you don’t get caught in the “right turn squeeze.”
This is one simple test of your patience that helps truckers out immensely!
6. Move to the furthest lane from the shoulder if you see a truck on the side of the road.
Truckers usually only pull over onto the shoulder of a road in dire emergencies. If you see flares or orange cones out behind the truck, move to the left lane when space allows to ensure safety for both you and the truck driver!
7. Don’t make sudden lane changes or cut-offs near a truck.
It should be of no surprise that it takes a truck longer to slow down than a car. At 55 mph, it takes a truck nearly 200 yards to come to a complete stop. That’s the length of two football fields!
With that being said, it is very important to take caution when changing lanes in front a commercial truck. Doing so can not only cause an accident, but also puts lives in danger.
Taking these precautions will help the truck driver see you merging, and give them enough time to react to your car entering their lane.
8. Let a truck in when merging, and yield in traffic.
We all know how tricky traffic can be at times, and how everyone has their own destination that they want to get to as soon as they possibly can.
A truck is a lot bigger than you, meaning that as it takes them longer to speed up, it also takes them longer to slow down. To avoid any preventable accidents, do everything you can to let a truck in if they’re merging onto the highways.
If possible, yield in traffic to allow a trucker to merge onto the highway. Give an appropriate amount of space so they have enough room to make sure you both stay safe in the process.
9. Make every effort to not slam on your brakes in front of a truck.
Not only do they have a blind spot right in front of their truck; they need an ample amount of room to slow down. Like we said prior, trucks can’t brake as fast as cars. To protect yourself, do everything you can to not slam on your brakes in front of a truck!
10. Always be patient.
They don’t always drive as fast as the flow of traffic. A lot of the time, they’re not able to drive as fast as the speed limit allows due to their load, the road conditions or the speed capacity of the truck.
We know you have places to be, but so do truck drivers. Their main focus is to deliver their load in a timely manner to keep the economy moving.
They’re only trying to do their job.
Look around you. What items do you see?
Almost 73% of freight in the United States is moved by truck. So, those items you see around – they probably came to you by the gracious dedication of a truck driver.
The open road is a truck driver’s office. They’re only trying to do their job in the safest, most time-efficient way to make sure we get our goods. So, remember to give them a break when driving with them on the road – they’re what keeps America moving.
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