Driver’s education covers a lot of important topics, but one thing people seem to panic about and do incorrectly is passing a semi-truck. Since these trucks are bigger and slower, they intimidate a lot of drivers.
Too many others get impatient and do improper maneuvers to get around or ahead of the trucks. Here are some basic things you should know before, during, and after passing a semi.
Before You Pass
As you approach a semi-truck, there are some things you need to know. One of the most important things to remember is that there are massive blind spots for truck drivers. Because of the height of the driver, the length of the trailers they pull, and their inability to have a good view behind the truck, there are blinds spots on the sides, front, and back of the trucks.
Some trucks have stickers on the back indicating the distances you should give them, but not all do. As a good rule of thumb, if you can’t see the driver of the truck in their side-view mirrors, they can’t see you. If you are in front of them in the same lane and can’t see their face in your rear-view mirrors, you might be too close for them to see you.
It is especially important between the times of 6:00 pm to 6:00 am, which is when 37% of fatal crashes involving a truck happen because visibility is drastically decreased.
As You Pass
Once you begin to pass, don’t linger in their blind spots for too long. Drivers are more likely to see you if you keep moving quickly past them. If they do not know that you are there, the driver might try to merge into your lane and right into your car. Accelerate as you pass and don’t slow down until you have passed them completely.
Another important thing to remember is that you should always pass trucks on their left. The biggest blind spot for a semi driver is on the right of the truck. Chances of the driver not seeing you are increased if you are on that side of the truck.
It is also good to remember that you should always pass cars on the left because those are the passing lanes. According to law, slower traffic is supposed to stay right. If there are more than two lanes going in the same direction, it should range in slowest traffic in the far-right lane with each lane to the left going a little faster. This traffic pattern keeps traffic flowing smoothly.
After You Pass
Once you have passed a semi, you should not merge immediately in front of it. Instead, give them a lot more room than a normal car because of the blind spot on the front of the truck. Merging too quickly is the same as cutting the truck driver off. This is not only rude, but it is very dangerous.
The typical truck weighs over 10,000 pounds and when traveling at 60 miles per hour on the freeway, it takes the length of about 3 football fields to come to a complete stop. This is the second most common maneuver that drivers do around semis that is unsafe. If you merge and then brake suddenly or slow down, it can be a dangerous situation for you and the semi driver.
If you can remember the steps of passing a semi, driving around them doesn’t have to be so intimidating. Don’t get impatient with the truck drivers and give them plenty of room. Treating each other with respect and being considerate will help ensure everyone reaches their destination safely.