We all love living in these beautiful mountains, but sometimes driving can be a challenge, especially when you are driving close to a coal truck or a semi. Do you find yourself clutching the wheel a little tighter as you pass large trucks? Well, you’re not alone — many drivers react this way. Large trucks navigate the roadways differently than other vehicles. Learning what they need — and what you can do — can help you safely share the road with large trucks.
What’s different about driving large trucks
Drivers of heavy trucks face a few difficulties on the road, including:
• Reduced field of vision. Truck drivers have multiple blind spots on both sides, in front of and behind their trucks.
• Longer stopping time. A large truck’s size and weight increases its stopping distance. For example: If large trucks are going 65 miles per hour, they could need up to 200 yards — nearly the length of two football fields — to stop.
• Slower reactions. Most vehicles can merge quickly. Large trucks can’t because of size.
• Wind vulnerability. Semis have a lot of surface area, making them harder to control when the wind picks up.
• Wide turns. Large trucks need plenty of room to make turns — especially right turns.
What you can do
Follow these tips to safely share the road with large trucks.
• Pass safely. Always pass on the left — the blind spot is smaller on this side — and maintain a steady speed.
• Give them space. Keep a safe following distance — four seconds or more — between you and large trucks to help avoid dangerous situations, such as sudden stops (and subsequent rear-ending), a truck rollover over in high wind, a tire blowout or a wide truck turn. Note: If you can’t see the trucks mirrors, they can’t see you.
• Be aware. Stay alert at all times, and keep your proximity to large trucks in mind as you share the road. In a smaller vehicle, you can maneuver more quickly which can help you stay out of danger.
Understanding and following these tips will help build confidence the next time you drive near large trucks. It’s really all about being a good neighbor on the roadway. Let’s all drive safely!
I always like to close my column by sharing this truth that I live by: The key to having a successful life begins with being a good neighbor, building relationships based on honesty and trust, working hard to make a difference for your family and community and being thankful for all the blessings along the way.
Justin Mays is a local businessman who serves neighbors in Bell and Harlan counties in Kentucky and Claiborne County in Tennessee. He may be reached at [email protected]