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Media post: What to Do When You Drive Near Trucks

There are more than 2 million 18-wheelers on the road today and until someone figures out how to deliver freight via drones, you will need to play nice with them when you drive. Here are a few tips on what to do and what not to do next time you are on the road.

Give trucks braking space 

The first thing we did is call our technical consultant at a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer in Jenkintown, PA. What he told us is that the magic number is 80,000. That’s how many pounds most trucks can weigh when fully loaded. Because of that weight, an 18-wheeler needs roughly 550 feet to come to a complete stop from 55 miles per hour. A Ford Fusion, on the other hand, can stop from 70 mph in 178 feet. Conclusion: If you want to avoid being hit by a truck, make sure they have enough room to brake.

Never pass on the right

Whenever possible, pass trucks on the left, even if it means waiting a few moments longer to do it. Even with all the mirrors that trucks have on them today, their road awareness is far better on the left side. If you are attempting to pass on the right, there is a good chance that the truck driver won’t see you. By the way, when in urban areas, unless you have a dedicated lane, never sneak between a truck and the curb when you want to turn right at an intersection. Trucks can swing into your path when taking right turns and you could end up getting hit.

Don’t match a truck’s speed when merging

For some odd reason, car drivers on highway on-ramps often match the speed of a merging truck which puts both car and truck on a collision course. Don’t do this. Either slow down and let the truck pass by or accelerate and pull a safe distance in front of the truck. Remember: its far easier for you to do this than a 40-ton leviathan moving at 65 MPH.

Don’t “grille-gate”

Grille-gating is when drivers pass a truck, pop over just 25 feet in front of them and then drive the same speed as the truck. As we mentioned before, an 18-wheeler needs some four or five times the room to brake as your car.  If you are grill-gating and have to panic-brake, well, you could end up being hit really hard by an 80,000 pound vehicle.

Don’t panic when the truck signals

When you are next to a truck and their turn signal goes on, don’t panic. In virtually all cases, the truck driver sees you and is just signaling their intentions to move over. What passenger car drivers should do is assist the truck driver by either speeding up or slowing down and letting the truck move over to the lane it is signaling for.

Don’t hang out

Some car drivers tend to hang out beside 18-wheelers on the highway. This is a terrible idea. Don’t hang by the side of a truck because you may end up in their blind spot and you’ll find yourself being turned into. Instead of hanging out, either pass the truck and keep going and slow down and let the truck maintain a safe distance.


So please think a little about these things when you travel on the highway. Put yourself in the shoes of the trucker and it will all make a lot more sense.

This Post Has One Comment
  1. Great safety tips.
    Also be aware of the grade of the roadway when passing, and pulling over in front of the truck. If on the downhill, the truck will be accelerating, so you too need to accelerate to keep a safe distance, and not be rear ended. On the uphill.. no problem.

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