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Driving Safely Around Semi Trucks- Part 2

Updated on August 10, 2012

In Part 1

In Part1 ( we talked about braking and stopping distances of cars verses semi trucks. Here I am going to cover some basics on why you should stay out of the blind spots and tips on safely passing semis.

Blind Spots

The blind spots, or no zones, on a truck differ greatly from that of a car. In your car, you typically have a blind spot on both sides. A semi truck has blind spots on all sides with the largest being to the right and to the rear. Staying in a trucks blind spot is not where you want to be. Not only are you putting yourself in danger but you could be risking other lives as well.
Lets assume you are in the blind spot on the right side of the truck. An emergency situation occurs in front of the truck. In order to avoid an accident, the truck signals (which you may not see where you are) and begins to move over - quickly, remember there is an emergency ahead. At this point you are probably going to panic and start laying on the horn. Now the truck driver knows you are somewhere over there and has to try to predict what you are going to do as well as still try to avoid what’s going on ahead. If the driver is a seasoned professional, you might get lucky. If not, well, I think you get the idea.

Being in the rear no zone is just as risky. The truck driver can't see you and you can't see anything but the rear of the trailer. Should the truck need to stop suddenly, you may end up crashing into the trailer.

Truck blind spots
Truck blind spots | Source

Passing a Truck

There are a few things to consider when you decide to pass a truck.

Is there ample time to pass? It typically takes at least 25 seconds to pass a tractor trailer. Sometimes longer depending on other factors. Don’t jump out to pass the truck if your exit is just ahead - doing this is going to cause you to cut over in front of the truck and hit your brakes and the reasons we don’t do this were covered in Part 1.

Are you on a hill or approaching a hill? What’s the problem here you might ask. It’s simple. A truck will slow down (sometimes almost to a crawl) going up that hill due to weight and speed on the approach. Coming down the other side - don’t be surprised to find that grille filling up your rear view mirror! Trucks gain a lot of speed coming down and use that speed to help get up the next hill. Even if there isn’t a next hill, take steps to be out of the way.

Time to pass the truck. Signal your intention early and pass quickly. Do not hang out next to the trailer (or truck for that matter). Once you have passed the truck do not move back over in front of the truck until you can easily see the front of the truck in your rear view mirror. Remember there is a blind spot in the front of the truck as well and you need to be clear of that before moving back into the lane. Never have your high beam lights on when passing a truck - they shine right into the side mirrors and right into the drivers face momentarily blinding the driver. Once back in the lane, do not slow down. Maintain your speed to create a space for the truck should the need arise for a sudden slow down or stop. If you don’t know why this is necessary, read Part 1

Head on over to part 3


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