You’ve always been extra cautious around tractor-trailers on the highway. You’ve heard so many stories about tired truckers, drugged drivers, and broken-down rigs being sent out on the road over and over again that you leave plenty of space when a semi is in front of you. But what if the truck is traveling so slowly on that you need to pass them? Is it worth the risk to your safety to travel next to the rig instead of behind it?
Four Reasons Passing a Truck Can Be a Deadly Maneuver
Passing a semi-truck on the highway is much riskier than traveling behind it. Consider these ways that you and your passengers are at risk whenever you attempt to pass a big rig:
- Blind spots. Your car may have one or two blind spots, but a semi has far more—and passing requires that you spend at least a few moments in all of them. The rear of the trailer (where you wait to pass) is nearly impossible for the trucker to see, and there are huge spaces along the side of the trailer that the truck’s mirrors can’t reach.
- Tire blowouts. You’ve probably seen one or two of those huge pieces of rubber on the side of the highway. Those used to be one of the many tires keeping a big rig on the road. Multiple tires per trailer may seem safer, but it actually increases the odds that a tire will blow—making the truck swerve unexpectedly into the neighboring lane.
- Wind shear. Contrary to what most people think, commercial trucks are actually harder to control in high winds. The trucks may be heavy, but the high walls of the trailer are like a ship’s sails, pushing and pulling the truck in the wind. If the trailer is empty, the risk of a truck sideswiping neighboring cars increases even more.
- Trucks passing trucks. Drivers are often annoyed when two trucks ride side-by-side on the highway, but this frustrating maneuver is also dangerous for the drivers of the two rigs. The passing truck cannot go as fast as a car when passing, so he may take several minutes to get ahead of the slower rig. If something goes wrong with either truck, the two may collide, spelling disaster for all of the cars behind. Finally, even if the passing truck makes it safely in front of the slower rig, he may brake suddenly for traffic, increasing the risk of an underride accident for the car in the right lane.
How to Stay Safe When Passing a Large Truck
If you must pass a big rig, you should do it as quickly as possible, keeping as far to the outside part of the lane as you can. You should always pass on the left side, as the right side has even more blind spots. After you pass, make sure to leave as much space as you can between you and the truck, and never travel directly in front of a semi.
Want to keep your loved ones safe on Kansas City highways? Send them a link to this article on Facebook to make sure they know the right way to pass a commercial truck!