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What to know about safely driving near semi-trucks

Posted by Scott Stueber, CPCU, CISR, AAI on May 31, 2022 9:00:00 AM

Tips for safely passing a semi-truckWith current supply chain deficits, now it’s more important than ever to drive cautiously and respectfully, especially near semi-trucks. In addition, a basic understanding of their unique characteristics can help.

Here’s some information to think about the next time you see a semi-truck:

  • It takes a semi the length of two football fields to stop.

  • Semi-trucks can have up to 18 gears.

  • Many trucking companies install speed limiters on their fleets of trucks.

  • The average weight of a loaded semi is 80,000 pounds.

  • Truck driving is number seven on a list of the top 25 deadliest occupations.

  • Seventy percent of American products are moved by semis.

Here are some safety tips for you to follow:

1. Always use your turn signals.

Often, I see drivers weaving in and out of traffic without using their turn signals. If this is a habit of yours, make it a point to at least use them when driving in front of semis. This way their drivers know what your intentions are and can make appropriate adjustments.

2. Don’t stay in a semi’s blind spot.

A truck has a much bigger blind spot than your vehicle. If you suddenly find yourself next to a truck, safely accelerate to get by it quickly. If you can’t get around it, adjust your speed so that you can see the driver using the side mirrors. If you can see the driver, he or she can see you too.

3. Don’t cut in front of a semi.

Again, an 80,000-pound truck needs the length of two football fields to stop. Cutting in front of one so you don’t miss your exit ramp isn’t smart. The driver may simply slam into the back of your vehicle because he or she can’t stop. Access to GPS makes it easy to get back on track if you miss an exit. A few minutes of travel delay is better than severe injury or death.

4. Don’t draft behind semis.

If you’re a racing fan, you know that cars drafting with one another increases performance and fuel efficiency. Drafting behind a semi can lead to:

  • Hitting foreign objects in the road.
  • Foreign objects breaking or penetrating through your windshield.
  • Decapitation because of going underneath the truck.

5. Allow more travel time.

As summer travel picks up and roadways become more congested, allow yourself more time when going to the office or taking that family road trip. Hopefully by allowing yourself more time, you won’t be making hasty or dangerous driving decisions. Remember driving is the most dangerous thing we do each day.

6. Avoid distracted driving.

We all know that distracted driving is dangerous and even deadly. Yet we tell ourselves that it’s ok to look away from the road for a quick second. A collision with an 80,000-pound truck can have grave consequences. 

7. Wake up or hang up.

Depending on how long you’ve been driving, your seat may be a bit reclined and your eyes a bit heavy. Or you may find yourself talking on your phone to pass the time. If you find yourself in either situation, make sure to be on alert as you approach a semi. High winds, exploding tires, and driver fatigue can cause a semi to veer into your lane. By being alert, you may be able to make some corrective maneuvers to prevent a serious accident.

8. Be more vigilant at night.

Nighttime driving is more challenging. Road obstructions, darting animals, fatigue, and poor weather conditions all contribute to the challenge. Plus, truck drivers may be driving faster to make up for daytime delays. Remain alert and patient.

9. Be patient.

Trucks are bigger, heavier, and slower than your vehicle. Driving recklessly, using inappropriate hand gestures, and using your horn angrily doesn’t change this. Being patient is the best thing you can do to keep everyone safe. 

Do you have any suggestions or information you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you. Please share them in the box below.



Topics: Auto Safety

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