How to Share the Road Safely with Trucks

According to, “Nearly 5,000 people are killed in truck accidents every year. Nearly 98% of the time, the drivers of the OTHER vehicle were killed. More than 75% of truck driving accidents are due to the driver of the passenger vehicle. Only 16% of all truck driving accidents are due to the truck driver’s fault.”

To share the road safely with tractor-trailers, you should understand a few basic differences between tractor-trailers and passenger cars. Although we may realize how different a passenger vehicle is compared to a commercial vehicle — we may not take the time to consider the consequences.

Tractor-trailers don’t have rear view mirrors. What would it be like to drive your car without a rear view mirror? You’d have large blind spots. Now combine that with the size and height of a class 8 truck. The trucker is blind for 15-20 feet in front of the truck, and up to 300 feet behind! How about the sides? If you can’t see the driver in his side mirror — he can’t see you.

• Don’t cut in front of a truck before it’s in your rear view mirror
• Only pass on the driver’s left
• Don’t tail gate — the trucker can’t see you
• Give trucks room to merge and change lanes

Tractor-trailers have a gross weight of up to 80,000 pounds. They don’t maneuver quickly. At 65 MPH, a class 8 truck may take 300 feet or more to stop, and that’s if the roads aren’t slick. A truck will not recover speed as quickly as a passenger vehicle, so a truck’s speed will vary on gradients. Due to length and turning radius, trucks often need to swing wide to make turns. Trucks also need room (and time) to back up. BTW, if you stop suddenly in front of a bus, chances are the driver will hit you before he throws 30 passengers into his lap.

• Don’t make sudden stops in front of trucks (or busses)
• Give tractor-trailers room to swing into a turn
• Leave plenty of room for truckers to back up — it’s not easy for them
• Be considerate of a tractor-trailer’s speed variations

If you’re mindful of the differences between a passenger vehicle and an 80,000 pound 53-foot trailer, pulled by a tractor, you may avoid being a roadside statistic.

If you’d like more information, here are a few helpful sites: – New Jersey Driver’s Manual, Chapter 8 (pdf)