As gifts fly off the shelves this holiday season, they need to be restocked quickly to keep up with the increased demand. It should come as no surprise then to learn that during the last weeks of the year far more commercial trucks are on the road than any other time of year. Though 18-wheelers help keep our economy running, they can also pose dangers for other motorists who share the road. Below are some tips to help drivers reduce the risk of a collision with a big rig this holiday season.
Avoid Trucks’ Blind Spots
Large commercial freight vehicles have massive blind spots on each side, spanning about 20 feet in front, 30 feet behind, one lane of traffic to the left, and roughly two lanes directly to the right (you can see an illustrated depiction of a big rig’s blind spots here). When driving next to a tractor-trailer, do your best to stay out of its blind spots. The longer you linger in one, the more at risk you are of getting involved in a collision with the truck.
Pass Only on the Left
Due to a truck’s extensive blind spots, especially on the right side, it is best to always pass on the left where visibility is better for the trucker. If you try to pass a truck on the right, even with an entire lane between you and the big rig, the driver may not be able to see you. This could be disastrous if the trucker tries to turn or change lanes while you’re beside them.
Never Cut in Front of a Big Rig
If you suddenly cut in front of a truck you may be setting yourself up for a devastating rear-end collision. Commercial trucks are massive and typically carry large, heavy cargo loads. With all that weight behind them, coming to a full stop takes time, and maneuvering is difficult for the truck as well. What this means is that you may abruptly find a speeding 80,000-pound semi-truck barreling into your 3,000-pound car, a scenario that never ends well for the driver of the smaller vehicle.
Refrain from Drunk & Drowsy Driving
There are two things that are typical of every year-end holiday season—large social gatherings and increased responsibilities. Holiday parties at work and with your family and friends often feature alcoholic beverages, so if you plan on drinking make a plan with a designated driver or use a rideshare service or a taxi to get home. Extra responsibilities—such as buying gifts, planning parties, and spending extra time at work—can be exhausting. Make sure you’re getting at least seven hours of sleep every night; otherwise, you might find yourself falling asleep behind the wheel. Drunk and drowsy driving can be dangerous on their own, but if it causes you to slam into a big rig, the effects can be catastrophic and even deadly.
Don’t Drive After Dark If You Can Help It
Truckers often work long hours themselves, especially to keep up with the extra demand this time of year. This means that tired truckers may be on the road late into the night in an attempt to make their delivery deadlines. They may be exhausted and finding it hard to concentrate. We recommend staying off the road, especially highways, after dark this holiday season if you can. However, if you must drive after dark, avoid big rigs to the best of your ability. Give them a wide berth and drive carefully when passing.