NHTSA Newsletter Provides Safety Tips for Sharing Road with Large Trucks
Nearly 4,000 Americans die every year in accidents involving large commercial trucks, the vast majority of whom are the occupants of other vehicles. In a recent Safety in Numbers newsletter (www.nhtsa.gov/nhtsa/Safety1nNum3ers/july2015/S1N-LargeTrucks-July2015_812186.pdf), the United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provided some tips for safely maneuvering around large trucks.
Pay attention to a truck’s blind spots. If you can’t see the truck driver in his side mirrors, he probably can’t see you either.
Don’t follow closely behind a truck. You will not be able to see what is happening in front of the truck or around the sides of the truck.
It takes much longer for a truck to stop than a passenger vehicle. Don’t cut in front of a truck or make an unsafe turn across a truck’s path.
Use the three-second rule for following distance behind a large truck. After the truck passes a roadside marker, you should be able to count to three before you pass that marker.
A large truck drives differently than a passenger vehicle. The size and weight affect braking, accelerating, turns, blind spots, and maneuverability.
Trucks need a wide area to make right turns, often moving into the left lane to turn right. Do not try to pass to the right of the truck.
Don’t cross behind a truck that is backing up. Trucks do not have rearview mirrors and may not see you.
Always use safe driving practices:
turn your headlights on at dawn and dusk
focus on all traffic and road users
obey traffic signals
don’t drive, ride a bike, or walk along the roadway after drinking
wear your seat belt or helmet
travel at safe speeds appropriate for road and weather conditions
Large commercial trucks have complex braking systems and longer stopping distances, larger turning radii and blind spots, and more tires and axles, all of which affect their mobility, speed, and operation. While it is obviously important for commercial truck drivers to receive appropriate training and licensing, it is perhaps just as important for other drivers to understand proper safety procedures when sharing the road with large trucks.