|Truckers Share Your Concern with
Safety is a critical concern of Trans Africa Freight's professional
truck drivers and the trucking industry. Truckers share their workplace
with thousands of motorists, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,
365 days a year. They understand that road safety is every driver's
business. To help all drivers share the road safely, they are happy
to share their tips for safer driving with you.
Know Your Trucks
Trucks aren't like cars - not even big cars. They behave differently
when accelerating, braking, climbing a hill, switching lanes or
turning. The more you understand how trucks behave, the better prepared
you will be to anticipate problems and avoid them.
For example, anyone who's been behind a tractor-trailer at a stop
light knows they take a long time to accelerate - after all they're
pulling up huge weights. The truck may have to go through ten gears,
which takes time, before it reaches the speed limit. In the same
way, trucks entering a highway can take some time to get up to speed.
Just as they are slow to get started, trucks cannot speed up, slow
down or maneuver as quickly as cars. Motorists should avoid doing
anything that may force the truck driver to take sudden evasive
action, which trucks can't do safely. For example, don't cut in
front of a truck or brake sharply when in front of a truck.
Trucks make waves
Trucks are big and they create a lot of air turbulence around them.
That can affect your vehicle when you're passing them, when they're
passing you, or when you pass one another on a two-lane highway.
Be prepared for a little "rock and roll" from air turbulence
and keep a firm grip on your steering wheel.
Making a big splash
Those big wheels can throw up a lot of water when it rains. Turn
your windshield wipers on before overtaking and passing a truck.
You need to see clearly at all times and passing a truck is not
the time to be adjusting your wipers. If the spray seems more than
your wipers can handle, don't pass.
Avoid blind spots: front, sides and rear
Remember that truck drivers can't see you when you're in their
blind spots or "no zones" - that's on both sides, directly
behind and in front. When you're passing alongside a truck, or driving
too close behind, you may find yourself in a blind spot.
Typically, truck drivers can't see anything closer than 30 feet
and sometimes up to 200 feet behind the trailer. Stay 250 feet back
or follow the four-second rule: if you pass the same fixed point
as a truck before reaching the count of four, you're too close.
And don't ride directly in front of a truck. A trucker with a long
hood may not be able to see the first 20 feet of roadway in front
of the truck's bumper. Even trucks with sloped hoods or no front
hood can have a front blind spot of up to ten feet.
Remember, if you can't see the driver in the truck's mirrors, the
driver probably can't see you. Stay in sight by keeping your distance
and to the left of your lane.
Pass with care
Remember those blind spots and pass from where the driver can see
you, not from directly behind the truck. This is particularly important
at night and in bad weather. Never pass on the right - the blind
spot is even larger on that side.
Make sure it's safe to pass. If you're not sure, don't pass. Remember,
the longer the truck is, the more distance you need to pass. Depending
on trailer length - from 40 to 53 feet - the entire truck may be
more than the 70 feet long. You may not be able to tell how long
the truck is from behind. Don't pass unless you're absolutely sure
there is enough room.
When you're sure it's safe, signal, move into the passing lane,
and pass promptly (but safely). Stay as far to the left as is safe.
This helps reduce the effect of air turbulence on your vehicle,
and gives you a margin of safety if the truck moves outside of its
lane while you pass.
Don't linger in the passing lane beside the truck. When you can
see the whole front of the truck in your rear-view mirror, move
back into the right-hand lane and don't slow down. That way, you
know you're a safe distance from the truck.
Bad weather is a bad time to pass large trucks. The combination
of splash and spray, air turbulence, slick road surfaces and poor
visibility increases the chance of an accident.
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 80,000 lbs. and take
the length of a football field to stop. Stay 4 to 5 car lengths
behind trucks. When entering traffic on an expressway or when passing,
don't cut in front of trucks and force them to attempt a sudden
stop - they could jackknife.
Give trucks room to move
Turning trucks need a lot of space, so watch their turn signals
and always give them the room they need. Remember that trucks make
wide turns. And, they may move out in the direction opposite their
turn (left for a right-hand turn) to avoid running onto the curb.
Don't move up into that space while they're turning or you could
be caught in a squeeze when the truck completes its turn.
Check your weight
Trucks sometimes have to slow down and stop to be weighed. When
you see highway signs for weigh stations, be prepared for trucks
around you to slow down and exit the highway to enter the station.
Also, watch for trucks entering the highway from weigh stations.
Don't stand so close
Don't park directly behind a truck, especially on a hill. A truck
starting up may roll backward as the driver releases the brake to
engage the clutch and accelerate. And, if you're parked too close,
the driver won't know your car is there. Don't park right behind
a truck. Try to park slightly to the left of your lane so the driver
knows your car is there.
Help trucks get by
When a truck passes you, stay right and slow down slightly. Keep
your eyes on the road and on your mirrors. This will allow the truck
to pass safely. If a truck is signaling to change lanes, give it
room. The driver may be trying to avoid another vehicle. When traveling
in the right lane, move left to allow trucks to enter the highway.
Take your cue from trucks
Take your cue from trucks. Truck drivers, in their elevated cabs,
can see farther ahead than you can. If you see a truck starting
to slow down, anticipate trouble and start slowing down too.
Don't cross behind a backing truck
Whether driving or walking, never cross behind a truck that is
backing up. Truck drivers have no rear-view mirror and may not see
you behind them. Many motorists and pedestrians are killed or injured
each year by ignoring trucks that are backing up.