Currently the weather is beyond frightful. The Polar Vortex has frozen a large section of the US and rain is washing other parts away. Not only is the cold temperatures and bad weather uncomfortable, it isn’t safe. Especially while driving. The pile up in Fort Worth, TX being a prime example.
So when we can’t stay at home, wrapped in a blanket drinking something hot and watching movies, what do we do, if we must go out onto the roadways? Even if you are driving a vehicle that is supposedly all terrain and all weather, there are things we all need to remember. Especially when driving around those big trucks. And yes, even when the weather is good and the roads dry.
I wanted to share some of what I learned when my husband became a long haul truck driver. Maybe this will help someone else understand why caution is important.
A big truck, from the nose of the tractor to the back of the trailer can be 70 to 80 feet depending on the tractor. Some obviously have a longer nose than others.
A fully loaded truck can weigh eighty thousand pounds that’s forty tons. A big truck, does not have 18 brakes, they have ten. Guess what, they still do not stop on a dime. https://www.wkw.com/truck-accidents/blog/stopping-distance-semi-trucks-vs-cars/ The length of distance required for an eighteen wheel truck to stop depends on a variety of factors as the link explains.
So, if you are on the highway and you see an opening between trucks, that spot wasn’t saved for you. That is their buffering zone, stay out of it, please. Oh and brake checking a truck? Bad idea, bad bad bad idea, don’t do that. A semi will win every time.
Another reason to stay out of that area and out from in front of those big trucks, guess what, if you’re too close to the front of that truck, chances are, they can’t see you. You need to be at least twenty feet in front of a truck for the driver to see you. Yet even then, you’re too close and not much more than a speed bump should there be cause for a sudden stop. Your best bet is to give them plenty of room and respect. Once you begin to pass a truck, keep going, don’t ride beside them, don’t cut them off. Everyone’s safety depends on every individual driving smart.
If you are behind a truck and you cannot see the mirrors, the driver cannot see you. There are many blind spots around a semi- called no-zones. Meaning, no, do not ride in that spot because as I said, the driver cannot see you. If they can’t see you then the possibility of there being an accident is greater, and you know what? If you are simply hanging out in a no-zone, its YOUR fault, not the driver’s.
Want to know another danger of riding beside those big trucks? Those big tires. If one of those blows out and you’re too close. You could be a fatality.
Yes, there are blind spots in passenger vehicles, but in those the ability to see through mirrors or by turning your head is easier, not so much if you are dragging a 53 foot long box.
Have you ever noticed on the back of a trailer where it has a diagram of a turning truck with the words, Makes wide turns? Well they do, it prevents them from dragging the trailer over or into things like light poles. Yes, it does mean they often must move over into the other lane to make that turn, so don’t slide up there as if to pass quickly because I’m sure the experience of being squashed would not be pleasant.
It is of the utmost importance, that no one, passenger or commercial, drive distracted. Put down the phone, don’t play with the radio and wait don’t read or watch television while driving. Yes, I have heard of that. Don’t worry about make up, hair, shaving, what ever, if you can’t do it before you leave home, oh well.
And one more reminder thanks to a professional driver, always multiply the distance times two in bad weather.
Yes, I know that not all truck drivers are responsible, professional drivers who do what they should, but most are. They are trying to do their job, as safely as possible and get back home to family and friends. We can help them do that by driving more responsibly around them.