Semi-truck drivers have a bad rap for being bullies of the highway. They pull in occupied lanes, hug the lines, and don’t let allow merging. This may appear as bullying, but more than likely, it’s a “No Zone” issue.
Semi-trucks have huge blind spots – in front, on both sides, and behind their trailer. If another vehicle or even a pedestrian is in one of those blind spots, they may be out of the truck driver’s range of vision. Staying out of a large truck’s “No Zone” will reduce the odds of a semi-truck vs vehicle or pedestrian accident.
The “No Zone” includes:
- 20 feet in front;
- One lane to the driver’s side;
- Two lanes on the passenger side and;
- 30 feet behind.
Basically, if you can’t see the trucker in their side mirrors, they probably can’t see you either.
Here is a graphic from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) illustrating the “No Zone.”
There are other ways to stay safe when driving around semi-trucks as well.
- Again, ensure you can see the driver in the mirror before passing. Signal, then move into the left lane (never pass them in the right lane if you can avoid it) and accelerate so that you can get past the truck safely, but quickly.
- Make sure the truck is visible in your rearview mirror before you pull in front. As a precaution, give extra space.
- Avoid passing a truck on a downgrade when they tend to pick up speed.
- If a truck is passing you, slow down slightly and give the driver plenty of space.
- Cutting it close.
- Don’t cut in front of a big rig or wait until the last minute to brake if driving in front of one. It takes them up to 40% longer to stop than cars and pickup trucks.
- Trucks have air brakes. If the driver brakes and uses up the air before it can recharge, then he has no brakes for a second stop. This will increase his stopping distance and will result in you getting rear ended.
- If driving behind a big rig, you are more than likely in one of their blind spots, plus, your ability to see other traffic will be diminished.
- If you rear-end a big truck, you can probably kiss your vehicle goodbye. can not only be injurious, but deadly. That’s a 80,000 pound truck vs a 5000 pound car collision.
- Rear ending a semi-truck can not only be injurious, but deadly. If the car drives under and gets stuck, those in the front seat can be instantly killed. Though commercial trucks are required to have a safety device called under ride guards, they’re not effective enough to always stop cars from driving under the trailer.
- Space to turn.
- Trucks require extra turning room. They swing wide, and sometimes may need to take a right turn from the middle lane as opposed to the far right lane.
- If a truck has signaled for a right turn, don’t pull along their right side.
- When you stop at an intersection, stay behind the stopping line or crosswalk. A semi-truck will require that space to make a left or right turn, depending on which direction they are heading.
Pedestrian safety around semi-trucks.
Pedestrians are not always visible to drivers. This goes double for the drivers of large trucks. It’s important to be cautious while out walking, especially at intersections and while crossing the street. Just last week a mom and her two children, an infant and three year-old were struck as they crossed the street in front of a semi that was pulling out into traffic. They were in one of his blind spots. The mom was uninjured, but the two children were admitted to Mary Bridge Hospital for evaluation.
The FMCSA offers the following tips to keep pedestrians safe when around large trucks:
- Watch your walk ways. Walk on sidewalks and in crosswalks whenever possible. Pay attention to walk signals and keep a safe distance when standing on street corners. Trucks make wide right turns and occasionally run up onto the corner of the sidewalk. It is important for you to be alert and to move back. Mostly likely, the truck driver will not see you or may be distracted and you could be seriously injured or killed if hit.
- Know your no-zones. Be careful of the blind spots, or No-Zones, when walking near or around trucks. Always assume the driver does not know that you are there. Make eye contact with the driver before walking in front of a truck that appears to be parked. If a truck is running, ensure there is plenty of room between you and the truck. Never walk behind a truck when it is backing up; truck drivers cannot see directly behind the truck and could seriously injure you.
- Stopping distances. Use caution when crossing intersections and streets. You may think vehicles will stop for you, but they may not see you or even be able to stop. Remember, trucks take longer to stop than other vehicles and need much more space. Never take a chance with a truck, even if the driver sees you he may not be able to stop.
- Make yourself visible. Wear bright or reflective clothing, especially when walking at night. Dressing to be seen will make it safer for you and drivers. Professional drivers do a lot of driving at night, and there’s a good chance a truck driver will not see you if you don’t make yourself visible. Carrying a flashlight is your safest bet for being seen at night.
- Watch out for wide loads. Trucks with wide loads have very limited visibility as well as difficulty maneuvering. Wide loads are much heavier and take up lots of room on the road. You need to be aware when walking near a truck with a wide load, because the driver may not see you. Trucks with wide loads make even wider right turns, require more space, and take even longer to stop than other trucks on the road. Remember to keep your distance when walking around these large trucks.
Always err on the side of caution when driving or walking near a semi-truck. A collision with a large truck can be deadly. Safety does not lie solely on the shoulders of the truck driver. It’s up to all drivers and pedestrians to ensure their own safety on the streets.