The Dos and Don’ts of Driving Near Heavy Haul Trucks: Trucking Safety Tips for Car Drivers

Truck moving heavy equipment

With over 3.2 million truck drivers registered in the United States – together, logging in more than 140 billion travel miles each year, it’s no wonder that heavy haul trucks take up a large part of our highways and byways. An integral part of the U.S. economy, these large vehicles are responsible for the delivery of 68% of all goods moving across the country annually.

In addition to transporting consumer goods, heavy haul trucks are also often used by the construction industry to transport heavy machinery and equipment to construction sites. Cycle Construction is one such contractor that relies a great deal on heavy haul trucking. Cycle has a fleet to carry large cargo for contractors, equipment dealers, crane owners, industrial facilities, tank and bulk equipment fabricators, and many customers.

While heavy haul truck fleets like Cycle’s may take up road space and slow down traffic flow at times, the company is committed to road safety in every situation. Cycle’s drivers are strictly monitored, trained and required to maintain the highest level of safety standards, for themselves and for all other vehicles on the road. Following is a list of tips for anyone who might find themselves sharing the road with a heavy haul truck:

  • Leave Adequate Braking Space: A fully-loaded 18-wheeler can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, so for the truck driver going at a rate of 55 mph, breaking quickly enough to avoid a collision is next to impossible. Anyone driving near an 18-wheeler should leave adequate space in both the front and back of a truck to avoid a collision.
  • Don’t “Grillegate”: Grillegating happens when a driver zips past a large truck and then drives the same speed the truck is driving. Please don’t do this. While no one likes to be stuck behind a truck, 25 feet isn’t enough of a safety cushion between a car and an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer. Also, never, ever cruise between two semis that are less than 100 feet apart, unless bottled-up traffic demands it. If a car driver in the fast lane finds himself being tailgated by a car, they should stay there and move past any trucks in the slow lane. It’s a lot safer to have one car tailgating another, than having a large truck grillegating the car!
  • Don’t Drive in a Truck’s Blindside: Avoid the large blind spots of any 18-wheeler. Car drivers are advised to just pass the truck and keep moving.
  • Don’t Match a Truck’s Speed at the Merge: Car drivers on highway on-ramps will often see a truck and then match its speed, placing both vehicles on a collision course at the actual merge. A 40-ton truck at top speed might not be all that fast by car driver standards; this is because most freight trucks today are speed-limited: On a flat road, a large truck can’t go faster than 62 mph. (However, on a downhill stretch, gravity can speed up the truck to about 80 mph). Even if the truck were to accelerate and go over the speed limit, it still can’t outrun any car built after 1948. So, when a merge brings a car neck-and-neck with a large truck, car drivers are advised to give it just a bit of gas, and keep leave the truck behind.
  • Beware of Deadly Underride: More than 200 people annually are killed in underride.  This is when a car runs under the side or the back of a trailer. Underride accidents typically occur at night and on very bright, sunny days. The gray-white color of most trailers makes them hard to see in bright sunlight, while at night, driver vision is often impaired by oncoming headlights. This often prevents the car driver from seeing the trailer blocking the road. Underride crashes usually involve flatbeds – which have much less visible surface – often carrying heavy construction equipment. Car drivers should keep a keen eye out in work zones where flatbeds are predominant, and avoid an underride.
  • Pass on the Left: Drivers who are behind a truck and need to make a right turn should never try to squeeze between the truck and the righthand curb. This almost certainly guarantees an accident. Truck drivers have more visibility on the left, so car drivers should first try to pass the truck on the left, get well ahead of the truck, then use turning signal and turn right the only exception is when there is a dedicated turning lane on the right.
  • Heed the Turn Signal But Don’t Panic: When a heavy haul truck uses its turn signal to indicate that it is switching lanes, it doesn’t mean that the truck is immediately commandeering a driver’s lane. Trucks are mostly 73 feet long, so truck drivers are trained to provide ample notice and time before switching lanes. Stay alert, but breathe a little easier, knowing that there should be plenty of time to proceed.

Safety  is one of the core missions at Cycle Construction; however, that mission extends to all people who share the road with the company’s heavy haul trucks.  All truck operators employed by Cycle receive rigorous safety training to ensure their protection and that of all other drivers they encounter on the road. We encourage you to share these tips with those you love.

Call us today to learn more about our heavy haul trucking and demolition and waste management services or to get a quote, fill out the form below and a Cycle team member will be in touch with you.