Have I got your attention? Well good then. It's necessary for all people on the road to have more awareness of how to properly behave when traveling on shared roadway space as 18 wheelers (aka semis,big rigs, et al).
Let me preface this by saying first and foremost, I am well aware that there are some crazy truck drivers out there. I see it everyday. However, the object of this blog is to hopefully educate and enlighten you or a driver you know and love.
Over the course of a day we see so many asinine things happen out here on the road that you just have to shake your head some times. For the life of me I do not understand why people are so careless with their lives and the lives of people around them. Mark and I sat down the other day and made a list of things that he (as the professional driver in this dynamic duo) would want people to know. All of these points are based on stuff we see day in and day out.
First, some tidbits of info.
A semi truck pulling a 53' trailer is 65' in length.
They can weight as much as 80,000 pounds when fully loaded.
Even a truck pulling an empty trailer is 34,000 pounds.
Trucks outweigh cars by as much as 20-30 times.
It takes a semi that is traveling at 60 mph 100 yards ( THE LENGTH OF A FOOTBALL FIELD) to be able to safely come to a complete stop. A FOOTBALL FIELD, PEOPLE!
A study conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute in 2013 showed that in a study of 8309 fatal accidents involving passenger vehicles and semi trucks 81% were caused by passenger vehicles. A report by AAA showed that the five actions caused by passenger vehicles that are mostly responsible for accidents are failure to stay in lane, not yielding right of way, speeding, violating signs and signals and driver inattention/distracted driving.
And now on to Mark's pointers.
1. The space the driver leaves in between them and the vehicle in front of them is not an invitation for you to squeeze into. It is to allow slow down and stopping as needed for the semi. Please avoid placing your vehicle in there when at all possible.
However, if you have to get in that spot then by all means
2. Use your turn signals/blinkers. Truck drivers know a lot of stuff (well some of them anyway) but they do NOT know what you are thinking. So if you cut over in front of them or come out from behind them, PLEASE for the safety of all involved use your turn signal. If you are out of blinker fluid, let me know and I will send you some!
3.Speaking of coming out from behind a semi to go around them, while using your blinker of course, please do not wait to do this until you see the truck driver put their turn signal on. They are much bigger vehicles and need more time to move over so they will normally put their blinker on several seconds before they are going to move to give everyone warning they are coming over. If you shoot out around them aside from it being really not cool, it could cause them to become to close to the vehicle in front of them while waiting on you who is being impatient. Most drivers will move into the left lane, pass and then get back over. It likely will not be the end of the world for you to wait your turn!
4. And while we are on the subject of you being behind a semi, do not follow too close. I always thought it was bunk but it is true that if you cannot see the trucks side mirrors then they cannot see you. Many, MANY times a day we hear drivers on the CB telling other drivers that they have a "four wheeler up their a$$" because cars really do ride too close.
5. When you are entering the highway either go faster than you think you need to to get ahead of the truck and keep moving, or slow down to get behind them. Contrary to popular belief vehicles in the right hand lane do not have to move over, its a courtesy not a law. Given that a semi truck is 65 feet long and not as fast as a passenger vehicle, they need more clearance to switch lanes so it is not always possible that they get out of the right lane for you. Whatever you do, do not just ride along side of them. Speed up or slow down, just do something!
6. When you are passing a semi (on the left, it is not safe to do on the right) get moving! Do not linger next to them. As you might expect a vehicle this large has blind spots. You do not want to get caught in one of them. Also, when getting back out of the passing lane give plenty of space between you and the truck before you move over. I taught my kids that when you think you have enough space, go ten more second ahead and then move over, while using your blinkers.
7. If you are in the right lane and a truck signals they need to move over, please let them over. Its super nice if you flash your lights at them to know they have clearance. Please DO NOT suddenly speed up on their right. Wait til they get over and then feel free to safely pass them on the left.
8. Please do not race around a truck only to cut them off to dart off your exit. Just wait the extra 30 seconds or so for them to move along and then safely take your exit. Your failure to plan accordingly for your exit should not become the truck driver's emergency.
9. Safe parking for semis is always an issue. When at a rest area or truck stop please do not park or drive around in the truck area if you do not have to. Remember, you are little and they are big.
10. And for the love of all things holy..and I cannot stress this one enough...PUT YOUR FREAKING PHONE DOWN! The biggest cause of insanity I see is people riding down the road texting, watching videos, talking on their phones, tablets and yes even a few laptops. I literally have seen a guy with his laptop on his steering wheel, and kids strapped in the back seat. I mean COME ON PEOPLE. Really, there is no reason good enough to be doing this while careening down the highway at 70 mph, or any speed for that matter. It's just senseless and I cannot stress how DUMB you look doing it and how ignorant it makes you.
None of this is rocket science. It is mostly all common sense so there is no reason not to pay attention. And not just in regards to semis but all other vehicles as well.
And on a personal note, a lot of people talk trash about truck drivers and the professional as a whole and for the most part it is unwarranted. Trucking is a dangerous, lonely and often times frustrating profession. People almost always fail to recall that just about every single item that they purchase or use on a daily basis got to them via a semi truck. Drivers work nights, weekends, and holidays. Through all types of weather. So the next time you get frustrated because a truck is not moving as fast as you want, maybe take a second and think about what they do and how stressful it must be. It's not glamorous out here but the guys are doing the best they can in mostly adverse in one way or another conditions. And my "baby boy" Andrew is getting ready to be one of them so it's time to be even more careful, for him and for you! :)
Next time you see a trucker, thank them for getting you the things you need when you need them and be safe out there. Please share this blog with anyone you know and love.
Thanks for reading.
And as it happens just today I was sitting with my camera in my lap with this bonehead decided he needed to thread the needle between us and the other truck, while using no blinker. He must be out of fluid.