Just like when we talked about motorcycle riders earlier and how they used to be perceived as the bad guys well truckers have been given a bad reputation for years as being big, fat and unshaven angry guys yelling into their CB radios as they drive over us! In today’s world this is far from the truth as many times you could not tell the difference between them and people who would wait on you at your local department store.
Matter of fact I have seen some of the most attractive women driving these big rigs everywhere I travel.
Also you must be aware of their role in our country and their impact on our economy as without them moving goods coast to coast we could not operate as we do as they are that critical to us. Now are there bad truck drivers well sure there are but the same could be said about any profession in America so let’s learn how to share the roads better with them.
How to Safely Drive Alongside Trucks
So here are some things I want you to be ready for when out there traveling along side them such as staying out of their blind spots. You will often times see a sticker on the back of these big 18 wheelers that states “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you”. Well their blind spots are huge given the size and length of their trucks so areas to stay out of include:
- Directly in front of them/their front bumpers.
- Area just outside the driver’s window.
- A larger area located on their right side/passenger side.
- And lastly directly behind the back side/rear of the trailer.
So it’s very important not to drive or stay in these blind spots, matter of fact it’s critical to stay out of these areas for your safety as well as theirs! FYI take a look at our website for pictures of truck driver’s blind spots that will give you a better idea.
Next remember not to drive directly behind their rear ends as not only are you in their blind spot but you have no clue as to what is going on in front of them. That’s like driving blind my friend without knowing what you might have to be reacting to as you can’t see a thing.
This also applies to large cargo vans or any other vehicle that you cannot see through when following them. Riding someone’s bumper is not like a NASCAR event where drivers try to draft each other to gain additional speed, this is just an accident waiting to happen so don’t do it please!
Tailgating, are you Mad?
Lastly on the subject of following truckers too closely well they are notorious for having retreads come flying off of their tires directly into the path of your car. Staying a safe distance back will help you avoid having these objects fly into your front grill/windshield.
If when following truckers this does happen don’t slam on your brakes or overreact and fly into another lane as this can only cause accidents. By staying a safe distance behind truckers well most of the time you can judge what to do when this happens and safely steer around them. So now that you know how to share the road with these great 18 wheelers by staying a safe distance away from them to start with next stay out of their blind spots as best you can when traveling next to them, behind them or passing them.
Driving at Night
One final suggestion I would have for you is something I have practiced for years during my travels especially at night. When a truck driver passes you, which for the most part happens out on the highway, well as you could imagine they have a hard time judging when it is clear for their entire rig to pull back in front of you.
Given this once you see that they have cleared you and are safe to pull back in why not be a nice guy/girl and give them a couple quick blinks of your bright lights to let them know the coast is clear to pull back. The majority of the time they will be thankful and trip their back end lights on and off as a signal of thanks!
It’s Time for School!
If there is any one single area that you need to be aware of and to be careful in while you are out driving well it’s in school zones! This kids and parents is a place that I can assure you police will not tolerate your speeding or reckless driving.
So below are some key things you need to remember when driving through these areas.
Pay Attention to Speed Limits
In regards to school zones they typically have speed limits that range between 15 and 25 mph and are less than the normal posted speed limits mainly before school starts and just after they end during the weekdays.
Most of the time these speed limits are enforced with warning or flashing lights but sometimes you will only see a bright caution sign so either way when you find yourself in a school area be careful and on alert. Word to the wise if it says 25 mph, go 23 mph and likewise if it says 15 mph try going 13 mph. When or if you have a child attending school in the future you will know the value of this program.
Now that we have tackled the school zone area next you need to be aware of when you encounter school buses and how you are asked to share the roads with them.
When you come upon a school bus that is slowing down and is turning on their flashing lights well you better pay attention! You must by law stop behind this school bus until it turns their lights off and proceeds. Under no conditions as in zero can you travel around a bus that is stopped with the lights on and letting kids out.
This also applies just as well for cars that are approaching the school buses from the opposite direction as you must stop and wait till they retract their lights and proceed. The only time this does not apply is when there is a “Divided Highway” as most areas of the United States do not require approaching cars to stop that are on the opposite side of the road.
Do check with your local jurisdictions to see if this might apply to your area. You might have noticed also in some local newspapers and on the internet that many school systems are starting to equip their buses with cameras so before you think you can pass them and not get caught well the eye in the sky might be watching you.
And one more and final thing many districts allow their bus drivers to pull over and call by way of their cell phones to report drivers who pass their buses when they are stopped so be forewarned when out of nowhere the police pull you over!