During Easter many South African drivers are sharing the roads with trucks. South African roads have become ever more congested with trucks carrying heavy loads between the coast and Gauteng. This requires special vigilance from drivers who need to be aware of the unique threats presented and extra patience required!
Basic driving habits practiced by motorists when sharing the road with trucks could save many lives. We would like to share a few suggestions from the Arrive Alive website:
Avoid blind spots
- 70% of all truck-related car fatalities are initiated by car drivers
- 35% of them occur in the blind spots around trucks
- There are four blind spots around tractor –trailer combinations where cars disappear from a truck driver’s view. Trucks have deep blind spots directly behind them and on each side. If you tailgate the truck driver can’t see you and your own view of the truck is obstructed.
- Truck driver’s can’t see anything closer than 10 metres and sometimes up to 50 metres behind the trailer
- The longer the truck, the more distance you will need to pass it. Don’t pass unless you are absolutely sure there is enough room.
- Pass from where the driver can see you – not from directly behind the truck.
- Never pass on the left- the blind spot is even larger on that side
- When passing –stay as far to the right as is deemed safe. This reduces the effect of air turbulence on your vehicle and gives you a margin of safety if the truck moves outside of its lane. Don’t linger in the passing.
- It is possible to get rear-ended by a truck or bus if you cut in front too soon after passing. A truck can’t stop quickly!
- Large trucks create a lot of air turbulence around them. Motorists should be prepared for a bit of “rock-and-roll” from air turbulence when passing a truck – Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel.
Caution in Bad Weather
- Bad weather is a poor time to pass a large truck. The combination of splash and spray, air turbulence, poor control of both vehicles on slick services and diminished visibility increases the chance of a collision.
- Light vehicle drivers should turn their windshield wipers on before overtaking and passing a truck in wet weather. You need to see clearly at all times. If the spray seems more than your wipers can handle, don’t pass.
- Truck drivers sometimes need to swing wide either to the left or right to safely make a turn at intersections.
- They cannot see cars squeezing in between them and the curb
- Watch for their signals and give them time to turn
Help trucks get by
- When a truck passes you, stay left and slow down to allow him to pass.
- If a truck is signaling to chance lanes, give it room. The Driver may be trying to avoid another vehicle
- When traveling in the left lane on a highway and you approach an on-ramp, move right to allow trucks to enter the highway
Allow some space
- When stopping behind a rig, remember that it might need space to roll back when it starts up again, especially on a hill.
- If you position your vehicle slightly to the right of the lane the driver will know you are behind and can take precautions.
- Unlike cars, trucks have a huge danger zone directly behind them. If you are tailgating a truck, the driver can’t see your car and you can’t see what is going on ahead of you.
- Stay well behind any big truck to avoid a rear-end collision.
- Truck wheels may throw up rocks – and certainly do throw up water when it’s raining.
- If a truck in front of you starts to slow down, there may be trouble ahead. Take the hint and slow down too
Don’t cut in front
- Don’t cut in front of trucks- they need a lot more time and space to stop than cars
- Loaded trucks can weigh up to 56 tons and take the length of a football field to stop
- When entering traffic on a highway or when passing, don’t cut in front of trucks or force them to attempt a sudden stop – they could jack-knife
Don’t cross behind
- When driving or walking, never cross behind a truck that is reversing. Truck drivers have no rear view mirror and may not see you behind them.
- Darkness masks many trucks. If you see a truck at night that looks like it’s parked at the side of the road, make sure you can see the entire truck body. Slow down and prepare to stop if necessary.
- Many trucks are still without obligatory reflectors and reflective markings. The body of the truck could be in your path. In dim lighting, it may not be visible until it’s too late to stop.