How to Safely Drive Around Semi Trucks

Semi trucks are big, awkward machines that can be annoying to share the road with. How can you maneuver around them safely?
Written by Andrew Koole
Driving habits
are hard to break. Like any activity performed on a regular basis, our instincts tend to take over. Sometimes, these instincts keep you safe. At other times, they can put you in a lot of danger if you’re not paying attention.
This is especially true when driving around semi-trucks. It can be annoying to end up behind a big
and trailer, but passing one in the wrong way or under the wrong circumstances can lead to catastrophic and deadly results.
To know how to safely maneuver around semi-trucks, the best thing to do is try and put yourself in the trucker’s shoes. How would you feel behind the wheel of such a large,
heavy vehicle
? Here are a few things to be aware of.

A semi truck’s blind spots are much bigger than yours

We don’t need to tell you that semi-trucks are big. But some people forget or fail to notice how a truck’s size affects the sightlines of its driver. The effect is more dramatic than you might think.
says a trucker can’t see anything less than 33 feet behind them. That amount of space might not always be available if you’re stuck behind one in traffic, but it’s definitely good to keep in mind.
The more important blindspots to be aware of though, are the ones beside and in front of a semi-truck. Nothing can be seen on the left until about the halfway mark of the average
On the right side, a car will start to disappear from a trucker’s line of vision as soon as it reaches the trailer’s back tires.

A truck’s weight slows its response time

If you’ve ever ended up behind a semi-truck at a
red light
, you know how long it can take for one to reach its desired speed. But acceleration isn’t the only thing that’s slower for semi-trucks than it is for cars. 
Turning, maneuvering in
, and braking all require more time and space for a semi-truck than a regular vehicle, and all of this is due to a truck’s weight. A sumo-wrestling tournament will teach you the same physics lesson.
This is especially true for any truck hauling a liquid. Any abrupt movements will slosh the truck’s center of gravity around, something any tanker truck driver wants to avoid. 

How to apply semi-truck weight and size to your driving

The best thing you can do to keep truckers happy and make the road around them safer is to give semi-trucks a lot of extra space. Avoid driving next to them as much as possible and don’t pull in front of them too closely, either.
When you do need to pass a semi-truck, always do so on the truck’s left side. It can be tempting to pull past on the right if the truck is in the passing lane, but with visibility so low for the truck driver on that side, you’re risking getting killed for a few minutes of clear road. Not worth it.
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