How to behave while driving next to a large truck

| In Articles | 17th July 2019

In traffic we need to pay more attention to large goods vehicle, the ones above 3.5 tones when they change direction.

They are a few reasons why this type of vehicles need more attention:

  • They are very big. The biggest vehicles you will see on the roads can be 7 to more than 12 tons, only empty. Compared to 1-2 tons as most of the small cars are, is a very big difference.
  • They are powerful (not in speed and acceleration but in traction force).
  • An impact with a truck will add to the other vehicle speed a lot (if is a smaller vehicle) from it's speed. An impact with one of this, for any other smaller vehicle, can be fatal
  • Large trucks will do wide turns and use parts of other lanes when changing direction. Like when going left on a tight corner, the lane from the right will be used for this maneuver.
  • Large trucks have big wheels. While driving, touching by mistake one of a truck wheels, will not only destroy the car like in an impact but can also lift your car and put it up-side-down very easy if the small car is coming from behind.

Because of this reasons and many more, this type of vehicles need a lot more attention on the roads.

How to behave next to a truck in different situation

If you are on the highway and you need to overtake a truck, pay a lot of attention to the truck head not only to the distance between your car and the trailer.

Many times, because the drivers need to drive for long hours, they can fall asleep or simple get tired and for a second they can lose the control of the vehicle.

The same thing can happen on the curve of a road, when the speed is not adapted. The driver is forced to negotiate the curve with the maximum brake it can be applied, but because of the inertia force, big load, maybe not equally distributed along the trailer, the truck can overturn on the direction initially had.

On a straight road, to redress the truck on the initial lane a fast movement is needed. This move sometimes can unbalance the whole truck. How fast will lose its balance it depends on how it was loaded, where is more heavy (back, front, left, right, top) or if the cargo is well trapped in the belts. If a heavy item will move while losing the balance, this will help the whole truck to lose it's balance a lot faster.

Being next to a truck that is loosing it's balance is extremely dangerous as the truck with all the load can fall on your car.

An another situation when a truck can lose it's balance is on fast and powerful winds, rain or ice (snow). Large trucks and specially the tall ones will tend to go on sides or even be moved from the back. Stay behind it if you see a truck moving in this way and wait until the situation is getting better.

Never stay alined or very close to a truck that is changing direction on a tight corner, with an angle between 90 to 120 degrees. Anything bellow 90 degrees angle is almost impossible for a long trailer on normal roads if the pavement does not allow more. If you are at the middle of a trailer in a situation like this, just accelerate and go in front of the truck (always anticipate the distance to the car in front, to have space to do that move), but if you are close to be parallel to the trailer, just stay away and don't align with it because is a very dangerous move.

If none of this is possible and you feel trapped on a wrong position use the horn of the car as much as you can. Do noise to get the attention of the truck driver and make him stop.

When changing direction a truck will use more than one lane. Because the last wheels axle has a few meters until the back of the trailer, the trailer will go out in a circle a few meters from the initial lane on the opposite direction than the turn, crashing in anything will be next to it in that moment.

The driver will have a blind spot on the external side when turning around (the inside only will be visible thru the mirrors) and he will not be able to see if somebody is there. Is your responsibility to stay away.

Because of this drivers experience, they will usually go very slow on busy intersections to give time to inexperienced drivers to realise what is happening and be able to run from this position because they are in danger.

We tried to cover a few dangerous moment in traffic with bad things that can happen if you drive a small car and overtake a large track.

In reality, a lot more situations can be covered but this can be the subject of an another article.

Until next time, Drive safe!