All vehicles traveling on the road have blind spots where other vehicles disappear from view. In tractor trailers and other large vehicles these blind spots can be surprisingly big. There are blind spots on all sides of a large truck where other vehicles can disappear from the view of the driver. If a professional truck driver has to make a sudden maneuver on the road, such as a quick lane change to avoid debris, crashes can occur if they don’t know you’re there.
Here’s what to do to avoid a truck’s blind spots:
Don’t linger alongside a truck. If you find yourself alongside a truck either move on past or back off so that the driver can see you. Look for the driver’s face in their mirror. That will tell you if you are visible to that driver or not.
If possible pass on the left where the blind spot is smaller. On the right the blind spot runs the length of the truck and extends out 3 lanes.
Passing a Truck
When passing a truck and moving back into its lane make sure your rear bumper has at least 2 seconds of clearance and you have room to continue increasing the distance from the truck before you cut back in. This allows the truck enough space to slow down or stop if something happens up ahead.
A fully loaded tractor trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and take the length of a football field to stop. Most passenger cars weigh around 3,000 pounds and have a much shorter stopping distance. Just because you can stop in time doesn’t mean the truck behind you can if you’ve cut too close in front of it. Even if the driver makes a monumental effort they may not be able to stop if you haven’t left them enough room.
Trucks leave space in front of them so they have enough stopping distance. Don’t fill in the space and lose the safety buffer the driver is trying to maintain.
When following behind a another vehicle leave yourself at least 7 seconds of following distance (on the highway this is at least 25 car lengths). This may seem like a long distance but room is needed so you have enough time to react if road conditions suddenly change. Following behind a truck requires more following distance. A good rule of thumb to ensure you’ve left yourself enough room is to look for the truck’s side mirrors. If you can’t see them, then the truck driver can’t see you!
Events which require a larger space behind a truck include:
- Debris in the road suddenly in front of you, because the truck drove over it, and you were following too closely could become a devastating impact.
- On congested roadways traffic often slows down suddenly. If you are traveling too closely behind a truck you cannot see the slowdown coming.
- At highway speeds everything happens very fast. Accidents up ahead or right in front of a truck require fast reactions. Leaving enough space in front of you will allow for more reaction time.
What is "impaired driving"? For many drinking and driving comes to mind. But impaired in Webster's Dictionary is defined as “To cause to diminish, as in strength, value, or quality". This includes the physical things that prevent you from being at your best.
There are times when you shouldn't drive. Recognizing WHEN this applies to you is perhaps the toughest part. Our nature is to say, “Sure, I'm OK to drive”, but the fact is there are times when we're NOT up to the job -- and shouldn't.
Know when to say no and immediately communicate with your driver manager.
Memorial Day Weekend serves as the start for the busy summer driving season and AAA estimates over 33 million motorists will travel this holiday weekend, which is the highest volume in ten years. Memorial Day Weekend is the first big vacation weekend of the summer. There are additional motorists on the highway, with many in unfamiliar areas. For the sake of safety, all drivers need to slow down, follow the rules of the road and be patient.
Tips to stay safe on your trip:
Perform a pre-trip inspection on any vehicle you will be driving.
Plan your trip – don’t just blindly follow your GPS. Know where you going and be prepared to exit. Indecisive driving is a major cause of traffic problems.
Slow Down – Chances of a crash nearly triples when driving faster than surrounding traffic.
Keep extra water in your vehicle – Just as you keep a winter driving kit in your vehicle, it is important to be prepared when driving during the summer months. Keep plenty of extra water, sunscreen and non-perishable snacks in your vehicle in case you are stranded.
Buckle Up – Safety belts save lives.
Abide by Traffic Rules – Follow traffic signs and signals – paying special attention to work zones.
Be Careful Backing Up – One in four preventable collisions involve backing up. Be sure to look before backing up; walk around your vehicle prior to departure.
Safety Belt Enforcement Zones
As the holiday weekend approaches there will be Nationwide safety belt enforcement zones. If you are not in the habit of wearing your seatbelt now is a great time to start. You can avoid a citation with heavy fines, high CSA points and potentially save your life!
Roadcheck 2015: June 2 – June 4
Prepare today to avoid any violations.
Check all the permits in your book to be sure they are all valid. Check the registration on your tractor and trailer. Is it expired? Does it match the plate on your vehicle?
Do you have the DOT Quick Reference Card for the Hours of Service e-logs and the E-VIR? The instruction cards are required by the regulations and you may be asked for them.
Is your Emergency Response Guidebook within arm’s reach without the need to unbuckle the seat belt?
Is your dashboard clean? Is your GPS blocking your view (should be in top 6” of windshield or cup holder mounted)?
Do you have your valid CDL on you? Do you have your valid med card?
Check the annual inspection your tractor. Is the sticker legible?
Safety equipment: Fire extinguisher charged and secured? 3 triangles? spare fuses?
Tires good shape and properly inflated? No missing mud flaps? Reflective tape as required?
Did you do a complete brake check (Hoses, connectors, pushrods, brake chambers, brake linings, drums)?
Lights all working? Check each switch - Four ways, turn signals, low beams, high beams, marker lights, brake lights (tire thumper between seat and brake pedal), ABS lamp on trailer (did it pass the key test?).
Placing proper notes on logs (fueling, pre-trips, etc.)? Load information entered on e-log? Approving logs daily?
When you are transporting a load that requires placards emergency response information is also required. At minimum the following information must be provided for each hazardous material being transported:
The basic description and technical name of the HazMat material.
Immediate hazards to health.
Risks of fire or explosion.
Immediate precautions to take in event of an accident or spill.
Immediate methods of handling fires.
Initial methods for handling spills or leaks in the absence of fire.
Preliminary first aid measures.
You will find much of this information on the shipping papers. You must also have an Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) with you.
The shipping papers and the ERG must be accessible from the driver’s seat while you are driving. If you leave your truck, the best practice is to move this information to the driver’s seat.
Do not accept a Pre-plan Load Assignment if you know you cannot run the load within your legal hours of service. If the plan doesn’t make sense, before turning it down, send a qualcomm message explaining what you can do legally. If you know that you will run out of hours at a customer location, find out ahead of time if you will be allowed to park there for your DOT break. If not, let your DM know ahead of time so the appointment time can be changed, or you will only run the load so far and another driver can repower the load, or other arrangements can be made so you stay within your legal hours and safely, legally park when you take your DOT break.
As you approach turn with signal on, watch for drivers who may misinterpret this signal as an intention to turn somewhere before your intended turning point. If there are two turning lanes, always take the right turn lane. Do not start in the inside lane because you may have to swing right to make the turn. Vehicles on your left can more easily be seen.
Don’t start turning until there is enough time for the rear of the vehicle to clear the intersection without forcing opposing drivers to slow down or swerve.
Don’t assume opposing driver will see you. They may be looking elsewhere.
Be careful that improper tracking does not cause the vehicle or trailer to interfere with pedestrians and other vehicles.