Semitrucks -- also known as 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers and big rigs – are a frequent sight on America’s highways. These behemoths, weighing as much as 80,000 pounds, are essential to our economy. Semitrucks deliver roughly 68 percent of all U.S. goods.
Even though these trucks are so vital, they do pose a safety risk on the roadways. More than 4,300 people were killed 450,000 in crashes with large trucks in 2016. Outdated equipment and overworked trucker drivers contributed to some of these accidents, but so, too, did drivers of passenger vehicles how did not know how to interact with semis on the road.
Be aware of blind spots
When driving near semitrucks, it’s important to keep in my that they have larger blind spots than passenger vehicles, what the U.S. Department of Transportation has dubbed “no zones.” Truckers have significant blind spots on all four sides of their vehicles. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see the trucker’s face in the truck’s mirrors or windshield, he or she can see you.
- Front: Because semitrucks have such large engines in the front, truckers have blind spot 20 feet in front of them despite how high up they sit. Never cut off a semitruck. When passing on a two-lane highway, make sure to provide plenty of room before returning to your lane. You should be able to see the truck’s headlights in your rearview mirror before moving in front of it.
- Sides: Even though semis have large specialized mirrors, they still have blind spots on their sides that angle out from the truck’s cab. The blind spot is even larger on the semi’s passenger side. If you drive in a truck’s side no zones, you risk getting sideswiped.
- Rear: By design, it is impossible for semis to have rearview mirrors. Instead, truckers need to use their side mirrors to see behind them. The blind spot behind a truck can extend nearly 200 feet. If you’re riding closely behind a semitruck, you’re blocking your view of other traffic and potentially slowing down your reaction time.
Though semitrucks can be hazardous, they’re a necessary part of our infrastructure. By being defensive and taking extra precautions while driving near semis, you can ensure your safety, the safety of your passengers and the safety of the truck’s driver.