How to behave while driving next to a large truck

| In Articles - Driving | 17th July 2019

Large trucks with trailers needs increased attention

In traffic we need to pay more attention to large trucks with big cargo trailers because of their size, vulnerability in some climate conditions (wind, snow, ice), power, instability that can be given by the incorrect loading, long braking distance, and the force in the situation of an impact.

They are a few reasons why driving close to a large truck needs more attention:

  • They are very big. The biggest vehicles you will see on the roads can be 7 to more than 12 tons, only empty. Compared to 1-2 tons as most of the small cars are, it is a very big difference;
  • They are powerful (not in speed and acceleration but in traction force);
  • An impact with a large truck will add a lot of force against a small vehicle. Most of the time, the result between a large truck and a small call is fatal for the small car passengers;
  • Large trucks will do wide turns and use parts of other lanes when changing direction. Like when going left on a tight corner, the lane from the right will be used for this maneuver;
  • Large trucks have big wheels. While on the move, if a small car is touching by mistake a wheel of a large truck, can easily get below the truck, be pushed of the road, or get turned up-side-down with ease;

Because of this reasons and many more, a large truck with a big trailer needs a lot more attention on the roads.

How to behave next to a large truck with a long trailer, in different situation

If you are on the highway and you need to overtake a truck, pay a lot of attention to the truck head not only to the distance between your car and the trailer. You can easily be caught into the middle of two vehicles if you don't see the truck head moving towards you.

Many times, because the drivers have to drive for long hours, they can fall asleep or simple get tired and for a second they can lose the control of the vehicle. If you are driving close to a driver that is loosing the control of a vehicle because of that, you are both in big danger, so pay attention to the other vehicles car to.

The same thing can happen on the curve/corner of a road, when the speed is not adapted. The driver is forced to negotiate the curve with the maximum brake it can be applied, but because of the inertia force, big load, maybe not equally distributed along the trailer, the truck can overturn on the direction initially had.

On a straight road, to redress the truck on the initial lane, a fast movement is needed. This move sometimes can unbalance the whole truck. How fast will lose its balance it depends on how it was loaded, where is more heavy (back, front, left, right, top) or if the cargo is well trapped in the belts. If a heavy item will move while losing the balance, this will help the whole truck to lose it's balance a lot faster.

Driving next to a truck that is loosing it's balance is extremely dangerous as the truck with all the load can fall on your car.

An another situation when a large truck with a trailer can lose it's balance is on fast and powerful winds, rain or ice (snow). Large trucks and specially the ones with tall trailers will tend to slightly incline on sides on strong winds or even be moved from the back if the wind is combined with ice on the road. Stay behind it if you see the trailer of a large truck moving unusual and wait until the situation is getting better, if you don't want to be in big danger.

A blind spot on the back, when a large truck with long trailer is changing directions on tight corners

Never stay alined or very close to a truck that is changing direction on a tight corner, with an angle between 90 to 120 degrees. Anything bellow an angle of 90 degrees is making a turn almost impossible for a truck with a long trailer on normal roads if the pavement does not give more space. If you are at the middle of a trailer in a situation like this, just accelerate and go in front of the truck (always anticipate the distance to the car in front, to have space to do that move), but if you are close to be parallel to the trailer, just stay away and don't align with it because the danger is increasing.

If none of this is possible and you feel trapped on a wrong position use the horn of the car as much as you can. Do noise to get the attention of the large truck driver and make him stop the movement of the trailer.

When a large truck that pulls a trailer is changing direction will use more than one lane on tight corners. Because the last wheels axle has a few meters to the back of the trailer, the trailer will go out a few meters creating a circle on the lane from the opposite direction than the turn (see above image), and will smash any vehicle will be in that area.

The driver will have a blind spot on the external side when turning around (the inside only will be visible thru the mirrors) and he will not be able to see if somebody is there. Is your responsibility to stay away.

Because large truck drivers have usually more experience than small cars drivers, they tend to go very slow on busy intersections to give time to inexperienced drivers to realise what is happening and be able to avoid being in the wrong position at the wrong time.

We tried to cover a few dangerous cases that can happen in traffic when driving a small car close to a large track with a cargo trailer.

In reality, a lot more situations can be covered but this can be the subject of an another article.

Until next time, we recommend a short good read about how to correctly drive a manual transmission car to avoid extra costs

...and wish you a safe drive!