When it comes to sharing the road, many drivers, especially new drivers, have a lot of anxiety about driving with trucks. While we certainly understand the intimidation of these larger vehicles, it is important to understand that they, too, are just trying to get somewhere safely.
When it comes to navigating the roadways and big-rigs, it just takes a few extra defensive driving skills, some practice and a little consideration. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Stay Alert – Always make sure that your eyes and head are focused on your journey and the road ahead. Staying alert behind the wheel can mean the difference between life and death, no matter who you’re sharing the road with. It is absolutely critical that you try to keep distractions to a minimum. That means, no texting while driving, avoiding playing with the radio, no arguing with friends in the backseat, etc. Keep your focus strictly on the what’s happening in front of you. While it may seem unlikely, given their size, large trucks can speed up next to you out of nowhere, so it is important to keep your guard up, and know your surroundings at all times.
- Avoid Blind Spots – While this rule of the road applies to all moving vehicles, avoiding blind spots with big-rigs is even more important, as they won’t be able to see you as easily as, say, a small car passing by. While all vehicles and drivers experience blind spots, trucks sit much higher and take up a lot more room hauling those trailers. They can’t always see what’s beside them, sometimes even if you’re driving right under their driver’s side window! Avoid areas (or at least spend as little time as possible) on either side of the truck cab, directly behind the trailer (they can’t see you at all back there) and directly in front of the truck’s cab (remember, it takes them much longer to stop if something happens). If you remember anything, remember this – if you can’t see the truck driver, they can’t see you.
- Be Considerate – This tip, again, applies any time you hit the road. We’re all just trying to get somewhere, and in order to do so, we all must share the road together. So, be considerate of others on the road, even trucks, and don’t let your temper get the best of you. While they may seem intimidating at times and can even be a little frustrating, remember, they’re just trying to get somewhere, too.
- Be Predictable – Above all else, when sharing the road with large trucks, you must be predictable. Anyone operating a large vehicle will require more space and foresight in order to safely react to anything happening on the road. So, again, be considerate, and make your actions known. If you are changing lanes around a truck, be sure to signal using your blinker with plenty of time for them to react to your change in direction. When you change lanes, do so deliberately, but do not weave back and forth.
At the end of the day, driving requires a great deal of trust. Trust in ourselves and trust in others. So, just remember that when you hit the highway, be respectful and considerate of all others sharing the road. After all, we’re all just trying to get to the other side, safely.