Sharing the Road with Trucks

When driving on the highway, you are at a serious disadvantage if involved in a crash with a larger vehicle. In crashes involving large trucks, the occupants of a car — usually the driver — sustain 78 percent of fatal injuries.

In order to keep you and your teen safe on the road, you should be extra cautious when driving around large trucks and buses. Sharing the road with larger vehicles can be dangerous if you are not aware of their limitations. Here are a few tips to help you drive safer to prevent serious – and potentially fatal – crashes.

Cutting in front can cut your life short

If you cut in front of another vehicle, you may create an emergency-braking situation for the vehicles around you, especially in heavy traffic. Trucks and buses take much longer to stop in comparison to cars. When passing, look for the front of the truck in your rearview mirror before pulling in front, and avoid braking situations.

Watch your blind spots – the “no-zones”

Large trucks have blind spots, or “no-zones,” around the front, back, and sides of the vehicle. These no-zones make it difficult for the driver to see. Avoid being caught in a truck’s no-zones. If you can’t see the truck driver in the truck’s mirror, the truck driver can’t see you.

Avoid squeeze play

Be careful of trucks making wide right turns. If you try to get in between the truck and the curb, you’ll be caught in a “squeeze” crash. Truck drivers sometimes need to swing widely to the left in order to safely negotiate a right turn. They can’t see cars directly behind or beside them. Cutting in between the truck and the curb increases the possibility of a crash. So pay attention to truck signals, and give them lots of room to maneuver.

Work zones

Work zones can be very dangerous, especially when traveling on the highway. It’s important to be alert and prepared to slow down or stop in a work zone. Slowing down and allowing others to merge will ensure a safe passage through work zones. Here are a few tips on work zone safety:

  • Stay alert and follow posted speed limits: Work zones are busy places where construction vehicles and workers are always moving. Be alert, and stay on the safe path that is designated throughout the work zone. Remember: speed limits are reduced in work zones for a reason. Signs will indicate where speeding fines will be doubled when workers are present.
  • Take your cues from trucks: Work zones often pop up suddenly. If you are not paying attention to the signs, you could find yourself in a serious crash. Since trucks have a height advantage and can see ahead of traffic, their brake light activity can provide a good signal of a slow-down or work zone ahead. Truck drivers know the stopping limitations of their trucks and pay close attention to traffic.
  • Merge gently: Aggressive drivers can be extremely dangerous while driving in work zones. Work zones require time and courtesy. For a smooth passage through work zones, allow others to merge in front of you. Be especially considerate of trucks. They require more space to merge and are the least maneuverable vehicles on the road.
  • Safe distance: Leave extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you, and keep a safe distance between you and workers on or near the roadway.
  • Hands-free phone use only: Florida law requires that wireless communication devices can only be used in a hands-free manner when driving in an active work zone.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Speed is everything

When driving in highly trafficked areas, like urban and town centers, as well as on arterial roads, your speed can be a matter of life and death for you, fellow motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Follow speed limits and respect all road users.