Today's roadways are filled with a wide range of vehicles, from compact cars to large trucks pulling semi trailers. Regardless of what you drive, as a motorist you need to understand the unique requirements and limitations of these commercial vehicles in order to share the road safely.
Drivers have every reason to be cautious around semis - they are giants on the road and can cause severe damage in a collision. Although large trucks represent just 5% of all the vehicles involved in collisions in Saskatchewan, they account for nearly 22% of the vehicles in fatal crashes.
However, truck drivers usually aren't the cause of deadly collisions. Research has shown that 75% of fatal crashes involving large trucks were caused by the actions of the driver in the other vehicle.
Part of the onus for keeping the roads safe rests on the shoulders of you, the driver. One way to protect yourself on the road is to avoid a semi truck's 'no zone' - the blind spots around a big rig where collisions are most likely to occur.
Like cars, semis have blind spots on both sides. Being in these areas when a trucker decides to change lanes can result in a collision, putting you at risk of injury or even death.
- Large trucks have blind spots near the hood of the cab. Truckers sit up high and the hood of their vehicle blocks part of the road ahead. When you're passing a semi, make sure you can see the entire truck cab in your rear-view mirror before returning to your lane. Cutting in too soon forces truck drivers to react with little time or room to spare - increasing the chances of a collision.
- Be sure to avoid the area immediately behind semis since drivers have no way of knowing you're there. You may not have enough time to react if the truck suddenly stops, which could result in a rear-end collision.
- Be especially cautious when pulling in front of a semi from a highway intersection. Because of their size, large trucks appear to be moving slower than they actually are. When in doubt, wait for a semi to pass before you enter the roadway.
- Semis have longer stopping distances than cars, so truckers need more warning to keep their vehicles safe and in control.
The rules are simple when it comes to sharing the road with large trucks. Respect their longer stopping distance, properly gauge their speed and avoid the 'no zone' to help everyone on the road keep on truckin' safely.