Traveling on the highway, freeway, or any open road that allows you to drive over 40 MPH can be dangerous and downright scary. This is especially true when you are driving behind or alongside trucks.  So here are a few things to keep in mind before you hit the open road.

Stay Away from Trucks

Trucks, especially big rigs, are scary and dangerous. Not because of the drivers, well, maybe some of the drivers are scary, but more because of what a big truck is, and what it can do. Trucks are giant, heavy, metal machines that often carry payloads measuring in the tons. This payload, combined with speeds of 55 to 60 mph or more, create enough inertia to do some serious damage. Here are a few things to remember about trucks.

Trucks Can’t Stop

Well, they can stop, of course, but not quickly. Even slowing down can be a problem. If they are at cruising speed, the weight of the truck and its payload (just like a train) cannot stop on a dime.  So it’s important to keep that in mind as you turn in front of a big rig. They may see you and may try to stop, but that doesn’t mean they will.

Trucks Throw Things

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve personally seen items from the payload come flying off of a truck. Whether it’s a small pickup truck and it’s just a seat cushion, or if it’s a large semi carrying giant coils of heavy gauge wire, it happens. If you are following too close, or if you are alongside the truck, “stuff” can fall on your car. It’s best to keep your distance and leave plenty of room for you to be able to swerve or otherwise get around any fallen debris.

Trucks also throw rocks. I know of a person who was killed when a large rock that was wedged between the dual tires of the trailer on a semi came free. It was spinning at such a terrific rate that it shot out and instantly killed a motorist driving by the truck. Yes, unfortunately, these things happen.

Truck Tires Can Fly Off

The tires on trucks are sometimes given extra life by bonding new tread onto used tires. These tires are called “retreads.” They are less expensive than new tires and do quite well. However, they often peel off. When they do, they become dangerous projectiles. Often you will see these scraps of tires on the side of the highway. If you actually see them up close, some of the chunks can be very large.

Low Bridges

Sometimes a truck will hit the bottom of a bridge or overpass. The truck may actually be too tall to fit under the bridge. This can happen quite easily. When it does, debris from the truck and bridge may fly back towards your car. This is to say nothing of the fact that the truck will, of course, stop suddenly.

Trucks can Tip Over

I’ve personally witnessed several large trucks tipping over. It’s pretty scary as you know, there is nothing you can do. This sometimes happens when the truck is taking the curve onto or off of an exit ramp. If the load is unbalanced and they are going too fast (and if there is considerable wind), large trucks can easily tip over.

Conclusion

So, are you scared to travel anywhere near trucks? Don’t be. That wasn’t my intention. Just pay attention to your surroundings and pay careful attention to trucks. Give them some room and keep your distance. It may be annoying sometimes, but better safe than sorry.

Written by Gary Pradel