Driving next to a semi can be nerve-racking. Here’s how to do it safely.Do you clutch the wheel a little tighter as you pass a semi or other large trucks? You’re not alone. Semis and large trucks navigate the roadways differently than other vehicles. Learning what they need — and what you can do — can help you safely share the road with large trucks.
Do you clutch the wheel a little tighter as you pass a semi or other large trucks? You’re not alone. Semis and large trucks navigate the roadways differently than other vehicles. Learning what they need — and what you can do — can help you safely share the road with large trucks.
What’s Different About Driving Large Trucks or Semis
Drivers of heavy trucks face a few difficulties on the road, including:
- Reduced field of vision. Truck drivers have multiple blind spots on both sides, in front of and behind their trucks.
- Longer stopping time. A large truck’s size and weight increases its stopping distance. For example: If large trucks are going 65 miles per hour, they could need up to 200 yards — nearly the length of two football fields — to stop.
- Slower reactions. Most vehicles can merge quickly. Large trucks can’t because of size.
- Wind vulnerability. Semis have a lot of surface area, making them harder to control when the wind picks up.
- Wide turns. Large trucks need plenty of room to make turns — especially right turns.
What You Can Do
Follow these tips to safely share the road with large trucks:
- Pass safely. Always pass on the left — the blind spot is smaller on this side—and maintain a steady speed.
- Give them space. Keep a safe following distance — four seconds or more — between you and large trucks to help avoid dangerous situations, such as sudden stops (and subsequent rear-ending), a truck rollover in high wind, a tire blowout or a wide truck turn. Note: If you can’t see the trucks mirrors, they can’t see you.
- Be aware. Stay alert at all times, and keep your proximity to large trucks in mind as you share the road. In a smaller vehicle, you can maneuver more quickly which can help you stay out of danger.