Posted September 9, 2022

Things Truckers Wish Other Drivers Knew

By Grace Tino

Trucking is one of the most challenging jobs out there. There are long hours on the road, heavy machinery to operate, and the pressure of delivering on time. One factor many truckers agree makes their jobs all the more challenging is other motorists. Unfortunately, most motorists do not know the ins and outs of operating a large truck, and often make the mistake of assuming the same operating rules of their vehicles apply to heavy duty trucks as well. Trained professional drivers are hyper aware of dangers on the road that other motorists can pose.

Let’s take a look at eight things professional truckers wish other drivers knew!

  1. Leave Space: While most drivers are taught to leave space between the cars in front of them and their own vehicles in driver education, many don’t realize the extra space trucks need. Heavy duty trucks make wide, long turns, slow stops, and gradual merges. When other drivers get too close, they run the risk of sliding beneath the truck on wide turns, getting clipped in a merge, or even causing an accident if they don’t give truckers enough time to brake. Truck drivers require plenty of space to safely react to changes on the road and dangers that pop up!
  2. Trucks Use Air Brakes: Big rigs use air brakes, a system that causes around a four-second delay in the actual brake engagement. This means, given the specific situation, trucks can need anywhere from 22 to 500 feet to come to a stop! Motorists should be careful not to cut trucks off, as they may not be able to brake in time to prevent a collision.
  3. Blind Spots: All cars have a blind spot where cars to the side or behind them will not be visible to the driver. However, on a semi, blind spots are far larger. Though the cabs have mirrors on either side, the sheer size of the vehicles prevent truckers from seeing all surrounding areas. If a motorist can’t see the trucker in the cab or mirrors, that means the truck driver also can’t see the motorist!
  4. Move Over for Stopped Trucks: Truckers will have to pull over on the side of the road for various reasons. A common reason is to check on the truck if there are any complications or repairs needed. Motorists should move at least one lane over when passing a stopped truck for the safety of the trucker.
  5. Communicate with Lights: There are multiple ways to communicate with truckers and other drivers just using your headlights. Flashing your lights more than two times in a row will warn drivers in the opposite traffic lane about danger that might be ahead. Truckers will flash their lights once when changing lanes to let other drivers know when it is safe for them to do so. Hazard lights are another important way truckers communicate- these can indicate they will be making an abrupt stop!
  6. Trucks Need Time to Accelerate: Truckers agree that other motorists commonly get agitated around them regarding accelerating, merging, and overall speed. Other drivers should keep in mind how much a truck weighs- it takes time and power to get it all moving! Semis often have lower gears than regular vehicles and cannot go from 20mph to 65 mph as quickly when getting onto a highway. Motorists need to be patient as trucks accelerate and avoid cutting them off.
  7. Backing Up in a Truck Isn’t Easy: A semi-truck can be around 60-feet long; there’s a lot of vehicle to carefully maneuver when backing into a parking space or gas station. Truckers will often need to adjust at several different angles while backing up in order to do it correctly. Truckers need space and time to do it safely!
  8. This is a Job: Unlike most drivers of passenger cars, a truck driver’s livelihood is on the road. Truckers are operating heavy and complex machinery for long hours to make deliveries on time, and it is a serious career. The work of every trucker impacts the availability of crucial necessities such as food, consumer goods, gas, and medical supplies. Every trucker is working hard and deserves respect for what they do and safety on the road.

Trucks are large and complicated vehicles that require years of education and experience to master. It is crucial for other drivers on the road to be aware of the differences between how their cars and how trucks function. Maintaining safety, for both themselves and for other motorists, is of the utmost importance for a professional trucker.