If you frequently drive on highways, freeways, and expressways; you most likely share the road with various kinds of semi-trucks and 18-wheelers. However, as normal as it may be, it is still potentially dangerous and sometimes scary. Semi truck safety in the Winter is very important. Whether you may feel comfortable driving near trucks, or not, there are some precautions you should take this winter season.
- Increase your following distance. It is important to maintain a good following distance from trucks on a normal road; but this is especially important in conditions where the roads may be icy or wet. You should stay about 8-10 seconds behind a commercial/non-commercial truck if the road conditions call for it. Staying that far behind will allow you time and room to suddenly stop without colliding with the truck. If possible, don’t drive directly behind a truck, and drive in another lane. Not only does driving behind a truck obstruct your view, but the truck driver may also have a hard time seeing you behind them. Driving in another lane also saves you from having snow, water, or slush blown onto your car from the back wheels on the truck in front of you.
- Be cautious when passing. Although it is a bit safer to drive in another lane versus directly behind a semi, you have to make sure you are not in the trucks blind spot. Make sure you pass a semi quickly, while avoiding going over the speed limit. Do not pass extremely close to the truck. Make sure that you are a good distance behind the truck before switching lanes so that they can see you make your change. If you switch lanes without behind a good distance behind the truck, you may be in a blind spot, and they may not see you and try to switch lanes as well. In icy or wet road road conditions, it is important to travel ten miles under the speed limit, so make your lane changes carefully. Try to avoid passing a semi on its right side at all times due to the fact that their right blind spot is double the size as it is on their left.
- Be cautious going up or down hills. When going uphill, especially in slippery road conditions, avoid being behind a semi. In the case that they lose traction, and begin to slide backwards/downhill, you want to be in a safe area. When going down hill, avoid being in front of the truck for the same reasons. If they lose tracking, the may begin to uncontrollably slide forward at rapid speeds, putting you right in the danger zone. The best place to be is in another lane. However, if there is only one lane of traffic, increase your following distance. If going uphill, stay a far distance back behind the truck; and if you are going downhill, safely accelerate to increase your distance between your vehicle and the truck.
- Take semi truck traffic into consideration. In bad weather conditions, many choose to stay home and off the roads. However, semi truck drivers typically do not have this option. So if you choose to drive on the road in bad conditions, be aware that there may be more semi’s present than normal. It is important to apply safe driving techniques in this situation, to get you from Point A to Point B safely.