There are an estimated 2 million semi trucks on the road today, and together they carry almost a third of all freight in the United States. The food you eat, the clothes you wear, the gas you put in your car and even your car itself were likely carried at some point on the back of an 18-wheeler.
Because we are sharing the road with so many trucks, it is important that we learn how to drive around them. Eighteen-wheelers are big, heavy and built to last, which means they will almost always come out the winner in collisions with passenger vehicles. To avoid getting into such accidents, here are some simple guidelines for sharing the road with 18-wheelers.
- Beware of blind spots: All vehicles have blind spots. But when your vehicle is more than 50 feet long and has no rear window, those blind spots become huge. A trucker generally cannot see you if you are anywhere to the right of the truck, near the midpoint of the trailer on the left-hand side or behind the trailer itself. And if the driver does not know you are there, he or she will not know to avoid you.
- Don’t cut them off: An 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. That is roughly 16 times as much as your passenger vehicle. It is impossible to stop that much weight as quickly as you can stop your car. So if you cut in front of a semi and then slam on your brakes, you may have the semi slamming into your rear bumper.
- Allow room to merge or turn: An 18-wheeler needs a gap of many car lengths in order to change lanes and may have to swing left before making a sharp right turn. Be considerate, and give trucks room to maneuver. By politely sharing the road, you can help them avoid tight situations that might lead to a wreck.
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