According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), “[l]arge trucks and buses (commercial motor vehicles or CMVs) have operating limitations such as large blind spots, long stopping distances, and limited maneuverability that make it essential for other vehicles to put extra focus on safety.”
Following are several tips from the FMCSA for driving safely around large trucks:
- Be aware of blind spots. Large commercial vehicles have huge blind spots, located around the front, back and sides of commercial vehicles. Do not drive in a blind spot. If you can’t see the driver in the truck’s side mirror, assume the driver can’t see you.
- When you pass a commercial vehicle, make sure that you are able to see the driver in the side mirror. Use your turn signal, then move into the left lane and accelerate rather than lingering in the blind spot. Before you pull in front of the truck, make sure it is visible in your rearview mirror.
- Don’t cut it close in front of a commercial vehicle. Not only are you likely to be in a blind spot that may prevent the driver from seeing you in time but, even if you are visible, the vehicle may not be able to slow quickly enough to avoid a crash. Generally, it takes a semi-truck 40% longer to stop than it takes an average car.
- Do not tailgate a large truck. Not only does tailgating put you in the truck’s blind spot, but it could cause your vehicle to slide under the truck if the truck stops and you fail to stop in time or if you get hit from behind.
- Be aware that trucks make wide turns. If a truck has its turn signal on, do not try to squeeze by it or get between the vehicle and the curb.
- Be patient with large trucks. Trucks have operating restrictions such as speed limiters. If you honk, drive aggressively or weave through traffic, it could cause dangerous distractions and crashes.
- Stay focused so that you do not underestimate the speed or overestimate the distance of a truck, particularly when making turns, merging or changing lanes.