The recent snowstorm in the Northeast has had people wondering exactly how they’re supposed to share the road with big rig drivers in icy conditions. Within high traffic areas like Long Island, New York, the day-to-day pressures of negotiating a commute is difficult enough. Add semi-trailers to the mix, and the dangers are multiplied, several times. Here are some ways to help keep yourself, your passengers, and other motorists safe in scary conditions.
Give extra clearance
It can be confusing sometimes to leave a safe amount of distance between you and a big rig, when it seems like that just provides another rush hour driver the opportunity to pop in and fill the open space. Regardless of traffic conditions, avoiding accidents requires patience and vigilance. Don’t let those reckless drivers discourage you from staying a safe distance behind the big trucks. The two-second rule becomes four to six seconds with a big rig in icy conditions.
Report unsafe driving
If a big rig driver near you is tailgating, has an unsecured load, or the driver is speeding – different areas of the roadway have lower speed limits for truck drivers – have your passenger call the number on the back of the truck to report the driver. Don’t follow the driver off your normal route, but give their company the plate number and activities of the driver. If the driver is putting himself or others in severe peril, call 911 and alert the authorities. If that driver ends up colliding with you, or others down the road, a report like this will go a long ways in documenting their behavior.
Stay out of the blind spot
This is important in any weather conditions. If you can’t see the driver’s mirrors, he can’t see you. So don’t tailgate and try to stay out of the driver’s blind spot. The safest place for your car is beside the truck, and near the front or middle area of the truck.
No sudden movements
Don’t swerve in front of or cut off a truck. They’re heavy and have a much longer braking distance than regular vehicles. Signal all turns and lane changes and allow the driver to notice you when you’re changing lanes in front of them. Many drivers will flash their lights at you as a courtesy, when you’re safely ahead of them and can enter their lane.
Pass on the left
If you pass a big rig on the right, the driver may not be able to see you. Always pass on the left. This is especially important if the truck driver is planning to make a right turn – you could easily be involved in a wreck if you happen to be on their right side during this maneuver. Some state laws require trucks to remain in the slower right lanes unless they’re actively passing another vehicle – specifically for the purpose of allowing the driver to always see you.
In general, taking extra care on wintry roads can help ensure that you stay safe while sharing the road with not only truckers, but also the other motorists. Allowing extra space for trucks, taking your time where needed, and making certain the truckers can see you will all go a long way toward ensuring your safety in winter months.