Big Rigs and Sharing the Road

It takes special driving skills and knowledge to drive safely around big rigs. You cannot drive around the big rigs the way you drive around other vehicles. The most important tip is to give a wide berth to the big rig. Statistics show that collisions between large trucks and lighter vehicles frequently result in death to the driver or occupants of the “other vehicle.” In 80 percent of fatal accidents involving big trucks and lighter vehicles, it is not an occupant of the big truck who dies.

Those big rigs are different because they have a much longer stopping distance than other vehicles, and it is longer still on wet roads. The ability of the rig driver to control their rig during emergency braking is very limited. Also, truck drivers cannot see you nearly as well as you can see the truck; if there is a crash, you lose.

Drivers of smaller vehicles need to practice the following safety tips:

  • As a general rule, keep as much space as possible between your vehicle and large trucks.
  • Do not cut in front of a truck just because you see open space there. That space is the truck’s cushion of safety because of its longer stopping distance. If you have to stop suddenly, it will be very difficult for the truck to avoid hitting you. Also, if the truck has a long hood, the driver may not be able to see you at all.
  • Do not linger alongside a truck; you may be in the trucker’s blind spot. The size and configuration of many trucks, especially those with trailers, create large blind spots for truck drivers. If you cannot see a truck driver’s face in one of his mirrors, he/she cannot see you and probably does not know that you are there.
  • If you are following a truck and cannot see the truck’s side mirrors, you are driving too close. The driver cannot see you, so back off.
  • Always give trucks plenty of room when they are turning. The relationship between the cab, mirrors, and trailer change constantly during a turn, creating varying blind spots. Also, trucks need extra space to turn because of their size.

A collision with a large truck can have tragic consequences for the occupants of the smaller vehicle. Always adjust your driving around the big rigs.

[back to top]

Source: Network for Employers for Traffic Safety

Last updated: 31 October, 2013

Educational programs of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information or veteran status.