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How to Share the Highway with Long-Haul Trucks

You can share the highway with long-haul trucks more safely if you follow a few safety tips, according to Truck Drivers News. Fatal crashes between cars and trucks are caused more by cars than by trucks, so avoiding problems with tractor-trailers is definitely going to increase your life expectancy on our highways. And who better to provide some safety tips than the truck drivers themselves?

80,000 Pounds Do Not Stop Quickly

Tractor-trailer units can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. All car drivers are pretty familiar with how much space needed to stop a car. But we have no conception of how long it takes to stop a fully loaded truck. Yet many assume that a tractor-trailer can maneuver like a car. It cannot. Never pull in front of an oncoming tractor-trailer. Wait the extra few seconds for it to pass. You are relying on your car's acceleration for your life. If something goes wrong, you lose. Wait the extra few seconds for the tractor-trailer to pass. The companion tip to this is to never stop abruptly in front of a tractor-trailer. It cannot and will not stop, and you will become an accident statistic.

Patience, Patience, Patience

Yes, it is hard to be patient in modern society. But having patience around the big rigs may save your life. An excellent example is being behind a tractor-trailer at a stoplight. The truck has its right-turn signal on, but starts to move to the left. "Stupid truck," you think, "he's got the wrong blinker on," as you move to pass him on the right side. Then the tractor swings back to the right and hits you. What happened? The tractor-trailer was making a right turn the whole time. But to get enough clearance so that the trailer does not drag over the curb on a right-hand turn, the trailer has to first pull the trailer a bit to the left to make enough room. If you get into this space, where the driver cannot see you, you can expect to be hit as soon as the tractor steers back to the right. Be patient. Wait for the tractor-trailer to complete its turn and get out of your way before you proceed.

Stay Back

This is not the Daytona 500. Under no circumstances should you draft or tailgate a tractor-trailer. First, you are traveling in a blind spot where the driver cannot see you. But even more important, you could be setting yourself up for a nasty surprise from road debris. Tractor-trailers are wide enough to drive over obstacles in the road that will cause serious injury to passenger vehicles. Their road clearance is high and their wheels are wide apart, so often they can straddle road debris. You, in the passenger car drafting the tractor-trailer, cannot. What is worse is the trailer will block your view so that you cannot even see it coming. Wait, it gets worse. If the trailer wheels hit the road debris, it is likely to get kicked up into your windshield. Fatalities have been caused by this. Stay back. Leave the drafting to  NASCAR.  

Beware of the Gator

You should stay away from the sides of tractor-trailers as well. Once again, there are huge blind spots for the truck driver in these areas. But another danger exists for cars as well. Tractor-trailer tires weigh about 110 pounds. They blow out all the time. You have seen the pieces on the highway. The huge tire chunks that blow completely off the tire are called "gators." And if you are driving next to that tire when it blows, that gator is going to find a home in the middle of your windshield.

How About Shrapnel?

So a little flying rubber does not scare you? How about exploding brake drums? Friction between the brake pad and brake drums can cause the drums to crack and could lead to flying metal. Does it happen often? No. Do you want to be anywhere nearby in your car when it does? Again no. Do not linger along the sides of tractor-trailers. If you going to pass, accelerate by the tractor-trailer and get out in front of the tractor where the driver can see you.