Semi-trucks hauling trailers are challenging to drive even under the best conditions. Due to the size, height and length of these vehicles, there are several blind spots where cars and even small trucks cannot be seen by the driver. It’s best for everyone that you do not drive for too long in a semi’s no-zones.
Here are the no-zones to avoid:
Lingering in front of a truck is less about blind spots and more about simply giving the semi the necessary room for safety.
You can’t cut off a truck like you would cut off a car in tight traffic, because then they don’t have enough space to stop due to their size and weight. If you cut off a semi and then hit the brakes, the semi will crush your car – and you with it.
Give a semi several car lengths of space before you pull in front of it.
Both sides of semi-trucks have large blind spots, but the right (passenger) side blind spot is much larger. This blind spot starts at the cab of the semi and extends back to beyond the end of the trailer.
On the driver’s side, the blind spot starts just below the cab and extends back 10 feet or so from the front of the trailer.
Any time you spend driving in these blinds spots increases the chance that the semi will change lanes and sideswipe your car – or worse.
It’s probably obvious when you think about it for a second, but semis do not have rearview mirrors, because all they would see is the trailer. Some trailers have rear cameras installed, but keep in mind that semi drivers change trailers often. For every trailer they haul with a rearview camera, they probably haul five without a camera.
For your own safety, you should assume that the semi you’re following doesn’t have a rearview camera. In that case, you’ll want to give the semi about 200 feet of safety space, which is roughly how far back their blind spot extends before they can see traffic with their sideview mirrors.
By giving the semi this much space, you will also be able to see what’s happening with traffic up ahead and react to it as needed. If you’re too close to the semi, all you see is the back of the trailer and you’ll have no idea if there are traffic problems up ahead.
If you’d like to learn more about driving safely around semis and large trucks, read this guide from the U.S. Department of Transportation.