If you find yourself clutching the steering wheel a bit harder when driving alongside a semi, you’re not alone. After all, most passenger vehicles pale in comparison to the size and weight of a fully-loaded 18-wheeler. But did you know that in over 80% of accidents involving a semi-truck and smaller vehicle, the accident is caused by the smaller vehicle?
Large trucks and semis maneuver the roads much differently than passenger vehicles. By understanding what they require to navigate safely and how you can help while sharing the road, you can avoid potentially dangerous accidents that damage your car or worse, results in severe injuries or death.
What challenges do large trucks face on the road?
Semi and large truck drivers face unique obstacles while driving that everyday commuters don’t have to worry about in their small vehicles. Heavy trucks must deal with:
- Limited field of vision: While blind spots aren’t exclusive to large trucks, semis have multiple blind spots on both sides, the front and the rear of their vehicle.
- Wide turns: Large trucks need a great deal of space to complete a turn, particularly when they turn right.
- Longer stopping times: Due to their weight and size, large trucks need more time and space to come to a full stop. At 65 mph, a semi would require the length of two football fields to stop completely.
- Wind vulnerability: Large trucks and semis have a lot more surface area than the average passenger vehicle. Their size and shape make them more challenging to control in windy conditions.
- Slower responses: Most smaller passenger vehicles have the luxury of merging or maneuvering quickly in traffic. Large trucks take more time to complete these actions due to their size.
How to share the road safely
When sharing the road with semi-trucks, keep the limitations of large trucks in mind and follow these tips to avoid a serious accident:
- Keep a safe distance: By giving semis space and maintaining a safe following distance, you can give yourself plenty of time to react if a dangerous situation occurs. Remember, if you can’t see the truck’s side mirrors, the driver likely can’t see you.
- Pass safely: Whenever possible, pass a semi-truck on the left side and maintain a steady speed. Semis have smaller blind spots on their left.
- Stay alert: In a smaller vehicle, you can maneuver more quickly to avoid accidents. Always stay attentive while driving to remain safe on the road with large trucks.