There are nearly 12 million large trucks and buses currently registered to operate on our highways. That is because trucks are still the primary way that we move goods and products around the U.S. Also, buses are an important part of our short-range or long-range commutes whether we live in an urban center, the suburbs, or rural parts of the country.
Now you may think that an 18-wheeler or bus is simply a larger version of a passenger car with a turning radius that happens to be a lot wider. Not so. Navigating a truck or bus requires some special driving skills, and presents truck and bus drivers with a number of distinct challenges. Trucks and buses both have major blind spots all around the vehicle, they have restricted maneuverability, and stopping distances that are much longer than a regular car.
If you do get in a truck or bus accident, injuries could be serious and you need an experienced truck accident attorney by your side. Our expert attorneys at Doolittle & Tucker, P.A., are ready to help you through a truck or bus accident. Having handled trucking accident cases for decades, we understand the particular investigations necessary to properly build a trucking accident case to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
4 Driving Tips to Keep in Mind
Given the many issues that differentiate trucks and buses from passenger cars, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) has taken the initiative to educate all drivers on safe driving behavior. Indeed, the FMSCA’s charge is to reduce the number of accidents, injuries, and deaths involving trucks and buses.
Here we boil down some guidance into 4 driving tips centered on driving carefully around trucks and buses.
Tip #1: Pass on By – Key To Safely Passing by a Truck or Bus
No doubt about it, cars are zippier, smaller, and more maneuverable. You may be late for work, you may feel that a truck is lumbering along the roadway, and you get that urge to zip around the truck. It’s okay, we’ve all felt that way. Even truckers and bus drivers know that’s what you are thinking.
If that is your mindset, try to take a breath and remember these four steps.
- See that the driver can see you. You want to make sure that you are not in a truck or bus’s blind spot – of which there are many. So, before you pass, look in the truck or bus driver’s side view mirror, and make sure you can see the driver. If you see the driver in the mirror, he or she can see you. That’s a good thing.
- Signal. Lots of people forget to engage their turn signals before going into another lane. Don’t be that guy. Clearly signal, then move to the left of the truck or bus and accelerate.
- Don’t Dawdle. In passing a truck or bus, you should accelerate so you can safely and promptly pass. It becomes dangerous when you linger, particularly if you are in the truck or bus’s blind spot.
- Rear View Confirmation. Finally, once you have gotten ahead of the truck or bus, make sure that it is in your rear view mirror before you pull back into same lane as the vehicle you are passing. The rear view mirror confirmation, rather than the side mirror, will ensure that there is plenty of extra space in front of the other vehicle. Remember that there are longer stopping distances for trucks and buses. It is not fun for anyone to test their stopping distance by cutting back into the lane prematurely.
In addition to the above, there are two other things to keep in mind. First, on a downgrade, very heavy vehicles tend to pick up speed. So, passing on a downgrade is something to avoid. Wait for flatter terrain. Second, never pass from the right hand side. Trucks and buses actually have more blind spots on their right hand side. Avoid potential dangers by always passing on the left.
Finally, let’s say a truck wants to pass you. Let them. You should even slow down a little to make it easier, and to minimize the time you are in their blind spot.
Tip #2: Ah, Those Wide Open Turns – Anticipate, and You’ll be Great
We have all seen the wide turns trucks and buses have to make. Indeed, you have probably seen many times a truck driver starting a turn from the middle of the road so the truck can clear the turn without hitting the curb (or other cars).
If you see a truck with its turn signal in your direction, then anticipate the turn. It is never a good idea move forward between the truck and the curb, or to frantically squeeze past before the truck makes the turn. Patience is a virtue here.
Tip #3: Wind Resistance? Don’t Believe the Pseudo-Science
Have you heard the old theory that tailgating a truck will help you save on gas because the truck removes all the wind resistance? We have. That could be an interesting physics experiment, but leave to the scientists. Staying close behind a truck can be dangerous. First, you are in the truck’s blind spot. If the truck stops quickly, you may not have enough time to avoid a collision. Also, if you are stopped behind a truck on an incline, then you are courting a real perilous chance that the truck, or bus, could roll back into you.
Tip #4: The Cruelest Cut of All – Avoid Cutting Off a Truck or Bus
It is never a good plan to cut someone off, whether you are in the shopping line, in a conversation with someone, or on the road. That is particularly true with trucks and buses. If you cut in front of a truck, it is most likely that you will surprise the driver if you were in his or her blind spot. Keep the thrills for the horror movies, do not surprise truck drivers on the road.
In addition, cutting too close and getting right in front of a large truck or bus leaves that vehicle with very little time to adjust. With their longer stopping range, a truck or bus may not be able to slow down in time to accommodate for your maneuver, and you could get rear ended.
In sum, when dealing with trucks or buses on the road, use all the safety precautions you learned in driver’s ed – times two. Given the particular issues with bigger vehicles, your courtesy and extra care will save you in the long run.
If you have been involved in a truck accident, then Doolittle & Tucker, P.A., is here to represent you. Our specialized expertise in truck accident cases makes us the ideal firm to represent you if you have been injured and need compensation for property damage or personal injury. Call us for a free consultation at 904.396.1734. You will be glad you did.