Semi-truck drivers operate a vehicle that has 18 tires, is 13-and-a-half-feet high (4.1 m.), 8.5 feet wide (2.5 m.), 72 feet long (21.9 m.), and weighs up to 80,000 pounds (36, 287.3 kg.). The men and women behind the wheel of gigantic semi-trucks log millions of miles driving loads around the world of food, clothing, gas, cars, medicine, and most other necessities of life. A primary goal of car drivers and truck drivers around the world is staying safe. Understanding a bit more about truck driving keeps both truckers and car drivers unharmed.
Truck drivers’ training
All truck drivers need a special license to operate their trucks. US truck drivers need to complete a course in how to drive a commercial truck and pass a written test to obtain their Commercial Driving License (CDL) that’s issued through the Department of Transportation (DOT). Future truck drivers will learn in a commercial driving course map reading skills, trip planning, identifying maintenance problems, and how to safely maneuver a semi-truck.
Over-the-road (OTR) drivers may spend up to 300 days a year on the road. These trained truck drivers will drive thousands of miles across the U.S.A. Throughout a trucker’s career, they’ll drive on many different types of road conditions, through severe weather, and around highway hazards. All that time on the road translates into hours of driving experience that the average car driver doesn’t have. Commercial truck drivers have the necessary skills drive to keep all drivers on the road safe.
Semi-trucks Need Driving Space
A 72-foot-long, 80,000 lb. semi-truck driving on dry highway road at 55 miles per hour takes about 4 seconds to stop and travels about 390 feet in the process. This means a semi-truck can easily crush a 14-foot long, 2,800 lb. Toyota Corolla in its path as the truck driver is frantically pressing on the brakes to bring the truck to a complete stop. A semi-truck can also hit a car when it’s abruptly cut off by it coming from the side to move in front. Put distance between yourself and semi-truck behind you. That way, the truck will have enough room to come to a safe stop and you won’t get in a deadly car wreck.
Have you ever had a vehicle driving so close behind yours that the other car is almost touching your back bumper? Were you convinced that if you stopped your car, the other car would crash into you? Or, have you ever driven behind a semi-truck going so slow you inch closer and closer to its back bumper? Truck drivers can’t always see if a car is tailing them. If they need to quickly stop to avoid hitting an animal, pedestrian, or anything else, your car can crash into a 80,000 lb. semi-truck. If you are driving on a two-lane road and want to pass a truck, be patient. Eventually traffic on the other side of the road will subside and you will have the space to pass.
Semi-truck Drivers See the Road Differently
Truck drivers sit higher than car drivers do. Because of this, they can see further down the road. Truck drivers may see a sheriff that pulled over a car, road construction, or a traffic accident in the distance and react to these road conditions before a car driver can. Move over to an inner lane of the highway when you see a truck do so, but don’t swarm around a truck like a bee circling its hive. Trucks need room to maneuver. When cars are close, truck drivers can’t switch lanes, back up, turn left, or make other defensive driving maneuvers.
Just like cars, trucks have blind spots—but a truck’s blind spot is bigger because a truck is bigger. Drivers need time to check the mirrors on their trucks. If a driver can’t see your car in their mirror, or you can’t see a truck driver’s face in one of their mirrors, they can’t see you. When you’re in one of the truck’s blind spots, it’s another circumstance for a possible accident.
Always remember this saying when driving, “It's not worth it to win a road race, so always give a semi-truck space!”