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Since we all share our roadways with large trucks, here are some tips for safe maneuvering around them:

  • Be aware of a truck's blind spots and do not assume that a truck driver can see you. If you cannot see the truck driver in his side mirrors, he most likely cannot see you either.
  • Do not follow too closely behind a truck. You can't see what is happening in front of the truck or around the sides of the truck. If you need to brake suddenly, you run the risk of a rear-end crash or, worse, an underride in which your vehicle runs under the rear of the truck.
  • Remember, it takes much longer for a truck to stop than it does a passenger car. For this reason, do not cut in front of a truck and do not make an unsafe turn across a truck's path.
  • Follow the three-second rule for following distance: Find a marker on the side of the road. After the truck passes that marker, you should be able to count to three before you pass that marker.
  • In general, understand that a large truck drives differently than a passenger vehicle. The sheer size and weight affect braking, accelerating, turns, blind spots, and maneuverability. Respect the needs of the truck and the truck driver.
  • If you see a large truck that looks like it's in distress, steer away from the truck as soon as possible. If you see the tire tread coming loose from a truck tire, try to change lanes or increase your following distance.
  • Do not maneuver to the right of a truck making a right-hand turn. Trucks need a wider area to make right turns, sometimes moving into the left lane to turn right. Do not try to squeeze to the right of the truck to go around it.
  • Never cross behind a truck that is backing up. Trucks do not have rearview mirrors and may not see you cutting in behind them.
  • When traveling at high speeds next to a truck, your vehicle may be pulled closer to the truck because of the air movement. Maintain control of your vehicle at all times and pay attention. Bicyclists might consider avoiding truck routes or pulling over when they see a large truck approaching at higher speeds.
  • Always use safe driving practices:
    • turn your headlights on at dawn and dusk;
    • pay attention to the task of driving; focus on all traffic and road users;
    • obey traffic signals;
    • don't drive, ride a bike, or walk along the roadway after drinking;
    • wear your seat belt or helmet;
    • and travel at safe speeds appropriate for road and weather conditions.

Parents should set a good example and take opportunities to discuss safe driving with young drivers.
Here's a short workbook and video to aid in the discussion:

When merging into a lane in front of a large truck, leave more space so the truck can adjust its safe following distance to accommodate your vehicle.