Sharing the road is important across North America. The entire continent is criss-crossed by highways, and large trucks remain one of the most popular modes of transport for long-distance shipping. Truck drivers go through intensive training and licensing processes, but they can only do so much. In order to keep the roads safe, non-commercial drivers need to do their part as well.
Many drivers are intimidated by the presence of a large truck, even when the truck driver is operating safely. Truck drivers, in turn, can become nervous when there are a lot of non-commercial vehicles around them. That heightened tension can lead to mistakes, sometimes with grave consequences. Awareness is the key to avoiding those dangerous mistakes, keeping your costs down for auto insurance, and making the road a safer place for all Albertan drivers.
Stay Out of the “No Zone”
The blind spots on a large truck are far larger than the blind spots on smaller vehicles, an important point for all drivers to remember. John Tessier, the Manager of Safety for the Alberta Transportation Association, lays out the basics: “In an effort to share the road, drivers should never impede another road user’s safety.” Tessier adds that, “We also have to respect and stay outside of each driver’s safety zone.”
- The “No Zone” refers to the common blind spots of large trucks. In general, the closer you are to a truck, the more likely you are to be in a blind spot. The most common blind spots are to the right of the cab, directly behind the vehicle, and directly in front of it.
- If you are behind a truck and can’t see its front side mirrors, you are in the truck’s blind spot. Move far enough back that you can see the driver’s face in the side mirror, and you will be at a safe distance.
- Watch for the truck’s brake lights and turn signals. Most trucks are outfitted with extra lights so that drivers can more easily see signals. A moment of extra reaction time can make all the difference.
How to Share the Road Safely
Sometimes sharing the road is frustrating. You’re late to an appointment or you’re stuck behind a particularly slow driver, and all you want to do is get where you’re going on time. Sharing the road safely requires maintaining safe driving practices regardless of the situation around you. You can’t control what other drivers will do, but you can control your own actions.
- Never, ever tailgate. It won’t get you to your destination any more quickly, and it’s extremely dangerous. Tailgating leaves you no time to stop in an emergency. When you’re behind a large truck, the results of tailgating can be catastrophic.
- Remember that trucks take longer to stop and turn than smaller vehicles. Leave plenty of room in all directions between you and any large truck on the road. This extra bit of reaction time is key to safely navigating dangerous situations.
- If you’re in front of a truck, signal turns and lane changes clearly. This gives the truck driver room to react as needed. It’s also wise to drive with your lights on, to alert other drivers to your presence.
- Remember that it takes longer to pass a truck than a smaller vehicle. If you decide to make a pass, signal clearly and be sure you have a clear path before making your move. Wait until you can see the whole truck in your rear-view mirror before returning to the right lane.
- On highways, stay toward the right lanes when possible, so truckers have room to operate in the other lanes.
Truckers and non-commercial drivers each love to complain about the driving habits of the other, but the reality is that safe driving is the responsibility of everyone on the road. Stay alert when behind the wheel, and build the little habits things that go into safe driving. When you consider the potential consequences of dangerous driving, maintaining safe driving practices is more than worth the effort.
Don’t forget to watch for wildlife, too!
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