5 Things Truckers Wished Drivers Knew
Driving a big rig isn't easy. Don't make their job more difficult.
Commercial truck driving is a more difficult job than many people realize. It is challenging to stay alert when driving for hours on end, but imperative when you are driving a vehicle that weighs several tons. They can cause a lot of damage in a collision, and they are not maneuverable enough to be able to easily avoid one.
To make matters worse, many drivers of passenger cars don’t seem to understand the limitations of big rigs. Or at least, they drive as if they don’t. By cutting off or tailgating trucks, or driving in their blind spots, they are increasing the chances of a serious collision. If you drive around commercial trucks often, there are things you should understand about them to ensure the safety of everyone on the road.
1. They Are NOT Able to Stop Quickly
Semi trucks really cannot stop on a dime. While most passenger vehicles weigh 3,000 - 4,000 pounds, a big rig can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. You simply can’t bring that much weight to a full stop quickly. At highway speeds, it can take a truck nearly twice the distance as a car to come to a full stop.
This is why most truck drivers leave plenty of space between their vehicle and the one in front of them. If you jump into that space, or cut them off, they may not be able to stop quickly enough to avoid hitting you.
2. They’re Called BLIND Spots For a Reason
Due to their large size, there are significant areas around a truck where the driver simply cannot see other vehicles. These blind spots are on all four sides of the truck. If you are driving too close to a truck, you are not visible to the driver, and they could potentially collide with your car when changing lanes.
3. They Make WIDE Turns
Depending on the length of the trailer, big rigs can be up to 65 feet long. This means they need a lot of space to turn, especially to the right. It is not uncommon for them to need more than one lane to turn. In addition, if you are in front of the white line at a stop sign, you may be in the space a truck needs to get through. If you see a truck making a turn, give them a wide berth, and don’t try to squeeze around them.
Due to their height, commercial trucks have a higher center of gravity, which means they are more prone to tipping over. Being stuck in a place where a truck is tipping your direction is the last place you want to be.
4. They Need TIME
Trucks take time to accelerate to highway speeds. Your car may be able to go from 0 to 60 in a few seconds, but trucks cannot. It takes them even longer to accelerate if the truck is heavily loaded, or on a hill. If you see a truck merging onto the freeway ahead of you, slow down to avoid having to slam on your brakes. Know that it will take a while for the truck to reach the speed you were going.
In addition, backing a truck into a driveway or loading dock is harder than it looks. It takes skill and precision to back up a bulky and not very maneuverable vehicle into an enclosed space. Not only that, a small miscalculation can cause the truck to damage a fence or wall. If a big rig is blocking the road while backing in, just sit and wait. Getting impatient or trying to squeeze around will only make things worse. Being patient and allowing the driver to do their job without distractions will get traffic moving again much quicker.
5. They Miss Honking Their Horns For Kids
When I was a kid, it was common for children to do the “trucker’s salute” when a big rig went by. You would make a downward tugging motion at the driver, mimicking pulling the air horn. If the driver played along, they would honk the horn for you. It was a fun way to interact with other drivers and keep entertained during long road trips.
However, in the last decade or so the practice is becoming less common, and many truckers are saying that they miss it. Interacting with kids not only helped break up the monotony of driving, it also made drivers feel seen and appreciated. So if you have children, make sure that you teach them the trucker’s salute, to give a smile to a driver on which our economy depends.