Roads are full of large semi-trucks. Large trucks like these are used to transport merchandise and large deliveries for companies in almost every industry. Driving around them can be uncomfortable and for good reason.
In the most recent report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 2016 was a rough year for truck drivers with 55,633 semis involved in crashes that involved injuries and 99,911 semi-trucks were involved in tow-away crashes. To make sure you are educated on how to pass semi-trucks on the road, here are some things you can remember.
Stay Out of the Blind Spots
Semis have large blind spots because of the trailers they are pulling. They have large mirrors to help, but the size of their blind spots compared to a normal vehicle are much larger. They are on both sides of the truck, plus the front and back.
When you are trying to pass a semi, make sure you stay out of these spots or pass through them quickly. If you linger too long, the driver probably doesn’t know you are there and might merge right into your car. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t see the driver in their side mirrors, they can’t see you.
Always Pass on the Left
Every multiple lane road is supposed to have slower traffic in the far-right lane with the lanes on the left all being passing lanes, with each increase in speed to pass the slower traffic on the right. This is the safest way to pass all traffic, but especially trucks.
Semi-trucks have their largest blind spot to the right of their trucks, spanning multiple lanes. Since truck drivers are trained to pass on the left only, it makes the most sense that they aren’t expecting to be passed on the right.
Another reason to not pass on the right is that semis must make wide right turns to clear their trailer around corners. When vehicles sit on their right side, they block a portion of the road and make it very difficult for the truck driver to maneuver. Don’t ever try to pass a truck at an intersection on the right side if they are signaling their intention to turn that direction.
Once you have passed the semi, merge back into traffic carefully. Since there is a blind spot on the front of the truck, the driver is too high to see if you merge too closely. In fact, the second most common unsafe act that drivers do around a semi is merging improperly into traffic.
This causes the truck driver to do a quick maneuver to avoid crashing or brake quickly, which is difficult in a truck weighing more than 10,000 pounds. Give them a lot more room between you than you would a regular vehicle on the road.
Driving with semi-trucks on the road doesn’t have to be dangerous. Following these passing rules helps keep traffic flowing smoothly. Most truck drivers are doing the best they can to get their load where it needs to go. If you can give them enough space and be respectful, everyone can stay safe on the road.