Hauling a semi trailer safely is no easy task. Countless variables come into play, including the weather, road conditions and the type of semi trailer you’re hauling (dry van trailer, flatbed trailer, refrigerated trailer, etc.).
Another critical factor in your ability to get your semi trailer safely from its point of origin to its destination is the actions of others on the road. Unfortunately, you can’t control the way other drivers, bikers and pedestrians behave and whether they choose to share the road with you properly.
However, you can help yourself, other truckers and everyone on the road by talking with your family and friends about what it’s like to haul a semi trailer. In doing so, you can share steps that they can take to make your job easier and increase their safety.
Blind Spots and Other Unique Aspects of Tractors and Semi Trailers
Experienced drivers know their tractor and semi trailer like the back of their hand. Even so, there are still several blind spots around a big rig. That fact tends not to be top of mind with drivers of cars, pickup trucks and SUVs since those types of vehicles tend to be designed with maximizing visibility and minimizing blind spots as one of the goals.
Trucks also handle differently than cars. It takes more time and distance to stop them, it’s harder for them to take “evasive maneuvers,” and they’re prone to incidents like jackknifing and tipping on their side. Consequently, anyone driving or walking in the vicinity of a big rig should practice a high degree of caution.
Safety Best Practices for Interactions with Trucks Hauling Semi Trailers
Most people are respectful of truckers and will gladly comply with best practices regarding how to interact with them on the road. They just may not be aware of what those best practices are. Do yourself and others a favor by sharing the eight tips below.
Let other drivers and pedestrians know that they should:
- Avoid a semi’s blind spots. Drivers typically understand that they’re in a blind spot if they’re behind the semi trailer and close to it. However, there are also blind spots directly to the left of the cab, in a pie shape on the right extending outward and back from the passenger window, and also directly in front of and close to the cab. If a vehicle is in one of those spots, there is an increased risk of a collision.
- Use caution when passing. Semis tend to travel at or near the posted speed limit both for safety and fuel economy reasons. Consequently, other drivers are often looking to pass them. This should be done very carefully on two-lane roads to ensure that there is enough time to complete the process before encountering oncoming traffic. Drivers should also leave ample space between their vehicle and a truck when they return to their lane. Dangerous accidents can occur when a car that has just passed a semi has to brake abruptly and is rear-ended by it.
- Leave space for their own braking. Not only does being close to the back of a semi trailer make it difficult or impossible for the truck driver to see a car, but slamming into the raised back end of a trailer can cause significant damage to the vehicle and a high risk of injury to its occupants.
- Be patient with truckers. It can seem like a truck hauling a semi trailer is moving in slow motion in certain maneuvers like backing up. It might even feel like the driver is intentionally “dragging their feet.” However, that’s rarely the case. It simply takes time to back a semi trailer up safely.
- Use turn signals. Truckers must continually process a great deal of information from the environment around them to operate their rig safely. When other drivers use their turn signals, it makes it easier for a truck driver to understand their intent and plan accordingly. Of course, even so, the other driver should never assume that the signal has been seen and should base their actions on their observations of the truck’s movements.
- Dim their headlights. High-beam headlights can temporarily blind a trucker, both from the front and from behind by way of the truck’s large mirrors. Drivers who are within a block or two of a semi should dim their high-beam headlights.
- Use extra caution in bad weather. Snowy, icy, and rain-slicked roads can be even more of a problem for a semi than they are for other vehicles. The same is true of low visibility from heavy rain or fog. In bad weather conditions, other drivers should leave even more space around a truck.
- Never walk in front of a moving semi. Even if a semi is moving slowly and appears to be coming to a stop, there is a huge amount of weight that must be brought under control. A slow-moving car may be able to stop in a matter of feet, but that’s not the case with a truck pulling a loaded semi trailer.
Safety is a Trucker’s Top Priority. It Should Be the Same for Other Drivers.
Truckers prioritize safety over everything else. But there’s only so much they can do to prevent accidents, property damage and injuries. Other drivers and pedestrians have to do their part, as well. It’s both incorrect and dangerous to assume that because truckers are skilled professionals they bear more of the responsibility for safety.
Fortunately, when everyone—truckers and other motorists alike—drive defensively and respectfully, it’s just as safe to be around semis as any other type of vehicle. If you’re a truck driver or you know one, we encourage you to share this post with others to help spread the word.
Safety starts with awareness!
Get the Right Semi Trailer for the Job
Another factor in safe trucking is having the right semi trailer. That means one designed to haul the payload and that is professionally and carefully maintained. At Boxwheel, we never let a semi trailer leave our lot until it’s inspected and deemed “good to go.” After all, we care about our clients and the people they share the road with!
To learn more about our inventory of flatbed, liftgate, reefers, and dry van semi trailers for rent or lease, contact us today.