Knowing how to drive safely around trucks on southern California highways may save your or someone else’s life. Los Angeles area roads are major thoroughfares for trucks hauling goods to the rest of the country and the ports that serve the world. There are many trucks here as compared percentage-wise to other traffic.
Trucks, just because of their size and weight, can cause major damage to all other vehicles and people riding in them, to say nothing of pedestrians. The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that, for every driver killed in a truck crash, six other people are killed as well, whether they were driving another vehicle, a bicycle, or walking.
While truck safety starts with truck drivers themselves, other motorists need to keep certain facts about trucks in mind.
First, because of their size, they take time and space to stop. Buses, for example, take 40% longer to stop than regular sized vehicles. Many trucks have air brakes that take a long time to slow and stop a truck.
Second, they have blind spots due to the height, size, and positioning of windows and mirrors. Truck drivers can only do so much to eradicate blind spots. Other drivers need to do their part.
So how can you drive safely around trucks?
#1: Don’t Drive in Their Blind Spots
If you cannot see the truck’s side mirrors, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration notes that you could be in the truck driver’s blind spot. Blind spots exist for them in the front, back, and sides. Drive defensively to avoid their blind spots. If you are in one, either cautiously increase your speed or decrease it to avoid it. They need to be able to see you to make safe decisions.
#2: Don’t Crowd Them
Trucks need a long time to stop. Never create a situation where they might have to stop suddenly to avoid you. If you need to pass them, don’t pull in front again until you are well ahead. Don’t suddenly pull in front of a truck.
#3: Wear Your Seatbelt
This is always a top priority for safety. Seatbelts could save 40% of the lives of truck drivers killed in accidents, according to the CDC. They are just as important for drivers of other vehicles.
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Additional information on driving safely around trucks:
- Driving Safely Around Trucks. March 11, 2015. https://www.drive-safely.net/truck-safety-training/
- United States Centers for Disease Control. Newsroom Home. Press Materials. Digital Press Kit. Motor Vehicle Safety. Truck Crashes. https://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/motor-vehicle-safety/vs-truck-driver-safety/dpk-vs-truck-driver-safety.html
- United States Department of Transportation. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. “Tips for Driving Safely Around Large Trucks or Buses.” https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ourroads/tips-driving-safely-around-large-trucks-or-buses