Sharing the road with these massive machines is a way of life. Unfortunately, too many accidents involving passenger cars and big-trucks occur each year resulting in tens of thousands of injuries, deaths and destruction. We all must learn how to get along safely.
Nationwide, these rolling behemoths referred to as, tractor-trailers, eighteen-wheelers, semi-trucks and big-rigs glide across country on most roadways. Whatever term you prefer to call them, it is with a doubt these big trucks are, the mighty kings of the road.
They can weigh up to 80,000 lbs (40 tons) and when towing only one trailer, they are over 80 ft long and are even longer when towing a double or triple trailer.
For this reason, when there is any kind of accident involving these monstrous giants, it is sad to say that the outcome is major destruction, massive injuries and deaths.
Controlling one of these rigs must take a true talent and the skills that a truck driver must need, when passenger cars make it difficult, must be incredible. I tip my hat to these gifted truck drivers.
We have all had the experience of having to drive next to a semi, which can be a scary ordeal. It can also be frustrating having to follow behind a slow moving eighteen-wheeler and where it becomes dangerous is when a passenger car driver, who becomes impatient, will take chances and do just about anything to get around and away from them, which tragically can cause accidents.
Semi-truck drivers go through a much more extensive driving training that is more advanced than the average driver completes. For this reason, most truckers are extremely safe drivers, have to have much more patients then other drivers, and do not take any chances because of the grave possibilities of danger.
Words of wisdom from a professional truck driver
Michael Coombs, a good friend of mine for over 30 years is a professional cross-country semi-truck driver. I have asked him to describe some of the most common safety hazards he experiences and here is what he has to say about safety and sharing the road:
“My name is, Michael Coombs, and for nearly 12 years, I have been a Professional Truck Driver. I have driven all 48 states and have logged just over 1.8 Million miles. My career as a professional cross-country truck driver keeps me away from home for 3-4 weeks at a time, then home for 4-5 days. I am proud of what do and enjoy being a part of the American way and my family prays for me every day that I am safe as I travel across this great land.
It has been my observation that most motorists do not truly realize what it takes to operate a Big Truck or 18 Wheeler. They also have a common misconception that we truck drivers are out there to hinder them and consider us a nuisance to everyone. Folks, let me say that we truck drivers are out there doing a job bringing fuel, goods to your Supermarkets, Clothing Stores etc. We all share the roadways doing our part and it is my hope that we do it safely.
When it comes to safety, I think one of the most dangerous maneuvers some passenger cars will make is when a Big Truck is passing another vehicle driving in the slow right lane. The big truck will change lanes and start to pass the other car. As the big truck is waiting until an assured distance before moving back to the slow right lane, another passenger car will try to “shoot the gap” and pass the Truck in the right slow lane that the truck is trying to move back into, causing what could be a fatal situation.
Another dangerous scenario is cutting off the Big Truck. When there is a space between the Truck and the Vehicle in front and someone tries to squeeze in or just not leave an assured distance, it’s like, they think we can stop on a dime and that’s just not so.
Another dangerous situation is merging onto a freeway. People driving passenger cars; please learn to do this properly. Most people do not realize that ramp traffic is supposed to yield to highway traffic and not just zip out there; some even get out there then hit the brakes.
If I was to tell the General Public one thing they could do to drive safely around Big Truck is to Respect the “No Zone”, which is the blind spot. Stay out of the blind spots and don’t just hang out next to a Truck, you never know if a tire is going to blow and the tread that comes flying off could kill you!
If you see the turn signal on a big truck, please show that driver some courtesy and let him move over, we’ll all get there, don’t use that as an opportunity to mash the gas pedal and speed up not allowing the truck to change lanes.
In addition, from my vantage point way above most vehicles, I see many things, like drivers texting and using cell phones and doing other distracting things not paying attention to their driving. Texting is the worst and talking on the cell is just as bad. I can always tell when a driver has gotten a call, they slow down to an unsafe speed, and it is almost as if they are drunk.
It’s amazing to look down and see how many people are holding their phones in their hand like a security blanket. People, you’re driving a car not a phone both!”
“Slow down, Save a Life”
Thanks Mike for your input. (Source: Michael Coombs, professional truck driver. Permission granted)
Do not cut off a semi-truck. Since a semi-tractor-trailer can weigh 80,000 pounds, it is more difficult to top or swerve to avoid collisions, as an ordinary passenger car is able to do. Use extreme caution and make sure there is plenty of distance.
Do not tailgate behind a semi-truck. It is impossible for you to see and tell what is going on in front of you and needing to react or having to stop suddenly would be extremely difficult.
A good rule of thumb is that if you cannot see the driver in his rear view mirror on the cab of the semi than he cannot see you.
Do not drive in the blind spots of thesemi-truck. Stay ahead or behind the truck, not along side of it.
Semi-trucks have to make wide turns to clear the corners so watch for turn signals and stay away from the side of the truck.
Whether you are a truck driver driving an eighteen-wheeler, a family in a passenger car or a little old person driving to church, safety begins with you. It is up to each one of us to respect all drivers and make sure we each do our part to make our roadways safe.
This article also posted on Triond by Scott Hallock