How to Share the Road With 18-Wheelers

Light-duty vehicles including passenger cars have been sharing the road with trucking rigs for decades. Usually, that relationship is a mutually respectable one, with both truck and car driver giving each other plenty of room to maneuver. Unfortunately, some people skirt in and out of traffic, weaving between 18-wheelers enroute to their destination. That sort of driving is dangerous, possibly deadly, and should be avoided at all costs. You can share the road with 18-wheelers by keeping the following five points in mind:

1. Keep your distance. The distance you keep between cars is typically one car length for every 10 miles per hour you are traveling. Thus, if you are moving at speeds of 60 mph, then a six-car length separation is warranted.

With trucks, you need to provide much more room, following 20 to 25 lengths behind the rig noted Ted Cash in his interview with the Deseret News. That extra length will help truckers to see you, keeping you out of his blind spot.

Peterbilt2. Consider the road conditions. Your car may be equipped with anti-lock brakes, all-season radial tires and the best brakes. You may be able to stop your vehicle fairly quickly and easily with more care needed when road conditions are less than ideal.

Those less than ideal conditions are particularly tough for truckers and should cause you to evaluate how much room that you give them. Trucks weigh tens of thousands of pounds and when fully loaded take more time to stop. The spacing recommendation made in the first point should be increased as road conditions warrant.

3. Pass with care. Many car drivers assume that truckers can see them at all times. After all, rigs are big and cars are small. That smallness, however, can leave you outside the truckers range of vision and put you both at risk.

If you can see the truckers side mirrors, then he can see you. Stay in his mirrors when you plan to pass. Also, when a trucker wants to pass you, you can signal your awareness of his intentions by flashing your head lamps. This is a common courtesy, one that demonstrates that you have everyones safety in mind.

4. Buckle it up. All drivers should wear their seat belts, one of the best ways to protect you in an accident. According to the National Safety Council, seat belts saved more than 75,000 lives from 2004 to 2008. In 2007, 42 percent of the people killed in vehicular accidents were not belted in.

If you are struck from behind by a truck, the weight of the rig compared to the weight of your car will mean you will sustain extensive damage. By wearing a seat belt you can avoid hitting the steering wheel or the dashboard, or being thrown out of position included being ejected.

5. Stay alert always. Inattentive drivers, cars and truckers alike, are more likely to get in an accident. In fatal crashes involving cars and trucks, 78 percent of fatalities were car occupants according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

No driver should take to the road when tired. Drowsy driving results in decreased situational awareness, slower reflexes and impaired judgment. Never drink and drive and do not talk on your cell phone. Most certainly do not send text messages. If your eyes are sore or you are constantly yawning, pull over and get some rest. Tired drivers have been found to fall into micro-sleep whereby they sleep for a few seconds to a few minutes. The consequences here are enormous.

Safe Driving

Trucks and car drivers alike can exercise much precaution when taking to the road. Avoid passing trucks on the right and never cut in front of a truck. Remember, in a collision you are more likely to be seriously injured or killed than the trucker as your 4,000-pound sedan goes up against an 80,000-pound 18-wheel behemoth.


  • Deseret News: Truckers Offer Tips on Safe Driving Around Trucks
  • U.S. Department of Transportation: Highway Safety Information System: An Examination of Fault, Unsafe Driving Acts, and Total Harm in Car-Truck Collisions
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