.| On the road | Sharing the Road with Truckers

 

Sharing the Road with Truckers

Today, there are more vehicles on the road than ever. That's why it's especially important to be conscious of other drivers who share the road with us. Take tractor-trailers, for example. Such large and heavy vehicles require special consideration as you encounter them in your travels.

As tension on the road increases, hostility between truckers and other motorists continues to grow as well. It is our responsibility as drivers to be both respectful and safe on the road. Understanding truckers is the first step toward better relations. Perhaps by understanding their situation, and by learning how to work with them, we can do our part to diminish the problem.

Understanding Truckers -

As with other operators, the overwhelming majority of truckers are courteous, careful, and highly skilled. They're professionals whose "office" happens to be the road. Truckers have a very difficult job. They have a responsibility to get a large vehicle with a heavy load to a destination, often with a very tight deadline. As traffic on the roadways becomes more congested and drivers become more aggressive, a trucker's job becomes more difficult.

Many truck drivers work away from home for two- or three-week periods. Some company drivers share the cab of a tractor with another driver, driving for four hours and trying to sleep for four hours. If we consider the number of times they have experienced inconsiderate acts by other operators in their many miles, we can begin to understand truckers' frustration.

Trucker Communication -

Truck drivers usually communicate by flashing their lights or by CB radio. When one truck passes another, the vehicle being passed flashes his headlights on to signal to the passing driver that the passing move is complete and the trucker is clear to pull back into the lane. If a driver is running with headlights on, the driver might turn them off briefly to give the same signal. Naturally, a trucker knows when his or her truck has cleared the vehicle being passed, but they signal each other in this manner as a greeting or as evidence of the respect they have for each other.

Once the passing vehicle has started to move back into the lane, the passing driver will usually acknowledge the flashing of headlights by flashing either the clearance lights on the back of the trailer, or four-way or emergency flashers. RVers can learn to communicate with each other and with truckers in the same manner.

Remember to observe trucks you are passing to determine if the headlights are on so you will not misinterpret the headlight signal. Some trucks run with their headlights on; others have daytime running lights just as other vehicles do. Headlights are also used to communicate when another vehicle is entering an expressway. If a trucker encounters another truck entering the expressway, he will briefly turn on his headlights to signal the other driver and will create space for the vehicle. The trucker will also use this signal when passing another truck on a multi-lane highway if the truck being passed is quickly coming upon another vehicle and preparing to pass. Once both vehicles are past the slower vehicle, the other driver will pull back into the right lane and allow the second truck to finish his pass. If the exchange takes place when headlights are in use, the driver in the overtaking vehicle will momentarily turn off his headlights.

RVers can do the same as truckers. Vehicles equipped with daytime running lights may have a switch that enables the driver to momentarily turn off the headlights. In vehicles equipped with daytime running lights that cannot be turned off, during daylight hours drivers can turn on their high beams and leave them on for a few seconds. The signal will not be misinterpreted for a passing signal if performed in this manner. Some trucks are equipped with lights that are on all the time, and they use this method to signal each other.

The CB radio is also a helpful communication tool, but many times things happen so quickly that it is easier to use the lights as a signaling device. Whenever the CB radio is used, truckers always refer to the other vehicle by the company name or the brand name of the tractor, often referring to the color as well. This specific identification is used because a radio signal travels a good distance and another driver may misinterpret the message.

Working Together with Truck Drivers-

There are lots of little things we can do to help our companions on the road. On those occasions when a truck passes you on an interstate and you soon approach a hill that will cause you to catch back up with it near the top of the hill, disengage your cruise control. Follow the truck up to the crest of the hill with the knowledge that after you top the hill, the truck is going to be out of your range.

Another thing we can do to make truckers' jobs a little easier is to become more aware of parking in rest areas. Often we see rest areas filled with recreation vehicles parked right in the center near the rest rooms. The rest areas may be so full that a trucker can't stop to use the facilities. A more considerate way to handle parking at rest stops is to stop in the outlying lanes or, if the area is fairly full, park along the side or at the end of the rest area away from the marked lanes. Handle overnight stops in the same manner.

If you use the truck pumps to fill your vehicle, when you are finished you should pull forward far enough to open up the fuel lane for a truck or another RV (especially at a Flying J RV island) before you go in to pay your bill. In a service area, stop your motorhome and signal a trucker that it is okay to pull out in front of you so he doesn't have to wait. Truckers do these things for each other-so should we.

Being "Truck Smart" -

  • Stay out of a trucker's blind spots or "No Zone," where your vehicle is not visible by the trucker. Because trucks are so much bigger than cars, they have bigger blind spots. If you can't see the truck driver's face in the side mirrors, the trucker can't see you.
  • When you pass a truck, do it carefully-and do it quickly. Don't linger. Riding alongside could put you in the trucker's No Zone.
  • Never pull in front of a truck and slow down. You will quickly eliminate the truck driver's cushion of safety and create a very hazardous situation.
  • Keep to the right when a truck is passing you. You may even want to slow down to make passing you easier for the trucker.
  • Keep your distance when you see a truck backing or turning. These can be difficult maneuvers, so help out by leaving plenty of room.
  • You will feel increased wind turbulence when passing a truck or when a truck passes you, so adjust your steering appropriately.
  • Keep your cool. No matter what happens on the road, you can't let your emotions get the best of you while you're driving.

Following these safety tips will increase your safety on the road and will go a long way toward building good relationships between RVers and truckers. And even if you don't get the desired result from a trucker, you can feel good knowing you did the right thing. Frank Warren, a professional driver for Yellow Freight, says it best: "There has to be a two-way street when it comes to safety and courtesy. The truck driver and the motorist must learn to live with one another out on the highway. We've got to respect each other."

 

 
 
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