Encountering a semi on the highway can make even the most seasoned drivers nervous – and for good reason. While semis make up only 4% of vehicles on the road, they are involved in roughly 1 in 10 highway fatalities.
Several factors make large trucks a danger to other vehicles. While the average car weighs in at two tons, a fully loaded semi can weigh up to 40. Because of its size, trucks take longer to slow down and often hit cars at higher speeds with much greater impact. On top of that, semi-drivers are often plagued with long hours and driver’s fatigue.
Motorists must understand that there are extra precautions they must take to share the road with a semi safely. By implementing these simple safety tips, you can help yourself to stay out of harm’s way.
1. Always be visible
All vehicles have blind spots, but large trucks have massive ones on all four sides. If possible, don’t drive in a blind spot or stay in one for long. If you find yourself in a blind spot, speed up or slow down when you can and be careful when merging. Generally speaking, if you can’t see the truck driver in either of their side mirrors, they can’t see you.
2. Don’t cut them off
You should never suddenly cut in front of any vehicle, but this is especially true for large trucks. In good driving conditions, a fully loaded semi needs the length of two football fields to come to a complete stop at highway speeds. If there are poor weather conditions, they’ll need even more distance. Even if the driver sees you, they may be unable to stop in time.
3. Prepare for wide turns
Large trucks require extra space when making a turn. They may start a turn from a middle lane or swing wide for their trailer. Drivers should never attempt to squeeze past a turning semi and the curb. At intersections, be sure never to cross the line as this may block a semi from turning safely.
4. Be generous
Large trucks drive much differently than cars, so its essential motorists give them the time and space they need to maneuver safely. Semis take longer to both accelerate and slow down, and truck drivers have limited visibly. Be patient with large trucks on the road and don’t honk or drive aggressively.
Safely sharing the road with semis is an ongoing challenge. However, by driving with extra care around a big rig, you can avoid potentially catastrophic accidents or injuries.