10 Easy Steps to Stay Safe Driving with Semi-Trucks on the Road

When driving around a semi-truck there are some very important things to consider.


By Dan Deary, posted in Phoenix truck painting on January 23, 2014

Safe Driving with Semi-TrucksSemi–trucks are common on the roadways and they are hard to miss. They are BIG and they take up a lot of room on the road. They don’t move as quickly as smaller cars. Since they are a lot bigger than you in your passenger car, avoiding an accident with a semi-truck is always a good idea! When driving around a semi-truck there are some very important things to consider. Here’s a list 10 of those things.

  1. Know the blind spots of a semi. If you drive in a semi’s blind spot the driver can’t see you in his mirror if he has to make a maneuver he won’t know you’re in the way. These blind spots are often next to the rear wheels of the truck, or behind the trailer. From behind if you can’t see the mirrors the driver can’t see you behind him. The best practice is to just give semi-trucks the room they need, don’t drive alongside them or too close to them.
  2. Pass trucks with caution. Remember to always pass on the left and be sure you have plenty of room before oncoming traffic on the open freeway. Be sure to completely pass the semi before reentering the lane.
  3. Don’t drive too close. Remember if you can’t see the mirrors the driver can’t see you, but that distance is still closer that what’s really safe. Allow at least a 4 second gap between yourself and the truck. The extra distance provides additional reaction time in case of: a tire blowout on the truck, high wind rolling the trailer over, or sudden stops.
  4. Don’t cut trucks off. Cutting off a truck is asking for trouble, their larger size and weight makes stopping more difficult. At 55mph an average car can stop in 140 feet, whereas a semi needs 300 feet or more to stop. When pulling in front of a truck be sure to leave plenty of room between you and the semi.
  5. Allow space between trailer and curb. Surely you’ve seen a “makes wide turns” sticker. This is because during a turn the rear wheels follow a shorter path than the front wheel, the longer the vehicle the greater the difference. To compensate this, you’ll see semi drivers move away from the curb to swing wide before turning right. People have been known to squeeze into the space that is made during this maneuver, if you see a truck doing this never get next to it.
  6. Patience is a virtue. If a truck in front of you isn’t moving as fast as you’d like it to don’t get frustrated with it. Semi-trucks with trailers carry a lot of weight, and since there is no way of knowing what’s inside a trailer, it’s best to trust that the driver is using a lower speed intentionally to responsibly manage the weight of his load. Practice patience and don’t start tailgating, simply wait until you have an opportunity to pass safely.
  7. Lower your hi-beam lights. Everyone has been hit by bright lights from the rear view mirror. For a semi-truck driver the array of mirrors on the sides create a wall of blinding light when hit by hi-beams.. The rule of thumb is to dim your lights within 1 block of another vehicle.
  8. Signal soon. If changing lanes into a lane with a semi, use your signal earlier than you normally would. Since trucks have more weight and longer stop distances giving them plenty of notice before merging in front of them is a good practice, three seconds prior to changing lanes is the rule of thumb.
  9. Merge with care. When merging onto the freeway, avoid merging too close in front of a semi, remember that they cannot brake as well as a normal car. If merging behind a semi let off the gas until you’ve reached a safe distance.
  10. Pay attention. Being vigilant is the best thing you can do while driving. Regardless of conditions, hazards, or surroundings, paying attention to your driving is the only thing you should be doing behind the wheel.
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About the author:
Dan Deary is president of All Pro Fleet Painting, a truck body repair shop located in Phoenix Arizona, specializing in commercial body shop and fleet painting services.

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