When you approach certain hazards on the road, you should apply different types of defensive driving techniques to keep yourself protected. For example, you may speed up if you need to pass a reckless driver or slow down to avoid hydroplaning once it starts to rain.
While driving near a semi-truck, there are a set of defensive driving techniques you should use to remain aware and prepared for an emergency situation. Here are just a few of these techniques.
Leave a bigger cushion of space
While driving behind a semi-truck, it’s a good idea to leave a large cushion of space for several reasons. For one, this will help the driver see you. But, most importantly, it will give you more time to react in case there is an emergency ahead of the semi-truck that you can’t see.
When a small vehicle “rear-ends” a semi-truck, it’s commonly referred to as an “underride” accident, since the car usually lodges into the undercarriage of the truck. These accidents can be deadly or cause permanent injuries. The more space you leave between you and the truck ahead, the better chance you have at being able to stop in time if necessary.
Know the blind spots
One reason why semi-trucks are so dangerous to drive near is because semi drivers have a limited view of the road next to and behind them. Remember, if you can’t see the semi-truck’s side view mirrors, the driver can’t see you!
Try to keep from driving in a semi-truck’s blind spot by either passing the vehicle or staying far enough back that the driver can see you. This will help the driver stay aware of your presence so that he or she can signal appropriately and merge only when it’s safe to do so.
Use your horn appropriately
Semi-trucks typically have blinkers located in the middle of the vehicle in addition to the front and back. These allows drivers who are next to a semi to take action if they notice the signals turn on.
A semi-truck driver who is signaling that they will merge into your lane may not be able to see that you are next to them. To make the driver aware of your presence, honk your horn. Then, make the decision to speed up, slow down or pull over so that the semi-truck can safely merge.
Come to slow stops
Because semi-trucks are big, heavy vehicles, they take a longer amount of time to stop after applying the brakes. To keep from being rear-ended, you should always come to a stop gradually while driving ahead of a semi-truck, rather than applying the brakes sharply.
This will ensure the semi-truck has enough time to notice that you are stopping and also apply the brakes. Never cut into a semi-truck’s cushion of space and quickly brake. This is a sure-fire way to end up in a costly accident.