Don’t Cut Trucks Off! Stay Out of the Front No-Zone
The front blind spot, or no-zone, is located in front of the truck and should be avoided for two reasons:
- Due to the size and height of the truck, your vehicle can completely disappear from the truck driver’s view when you enter the front no-zone. If you cut into the front no-zone and hit the brakes, the truck driver won’t see you and you’ll cause a crash.
- Trucks need plenty of room to brake or slow down. If you’re in the front no-zone and traffic comes to a stop or slows down quickly, the truck won’t have enough time to stop, and approximately 80,000 pounds of truck will slam into the back of your car.
Remember, unpredictable and unexpected things happen ALL THE TIME when you’re driving. Animals can run out on the road; there may be debris or other objects on the road that need to be avoided; another driver may cut you off, causing you to slam on your brakes…. If any of these things were to happen while you were in a truck’s front no-zone, chances are it would end in tragedy for you and your passengers.
RULE OF THUMB: LOOK FOR THE ENTIRE FRONT OF THE TRUCK CAB – FROM THE BUMPER TO THE TOP OF THE CAB – IN YOUR REARVIEW MIRROR BEFORE CHANGING LANES IN FRONT OF A TRUCK. DON’T PUT YOURSELF AND OTHERS IN HARM’S WAY. STAY OUT OF THE FRONT NO-ZONE!
Changing Lanes in Front of a Truck
This clip clearly shows the dangers of cutting in front of, or cutting off, a truck. In the forward roadway view, you’ll see a car in the left lane next to the truck with its right turn signal on. The driver sees a small opening in traffic and changes lanes directly in front of the truck, causing the truck driver to slam on his brakes to avoid a collision. Take note of how quickly the truck driver has to react in order to avoid smashing into the rear of the car. This situation could have been easily avoided if the car driver had been patient enough to wait for the truck to pass and found a more appropriately sized gap in the traffic to change lanes.
Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you EVER cut in front of a truck, especially if the traffic is slowing or stopped ahead! Large trucks have much longer stopping distances than passenger vehicles. At 55 mph, it can take a large truck more than the length of a football field to stop. In 2013, four out of every five people killed in a crash involving a large truck were occupants of other vehicles. In other words, you’re risking your life and the lives of your passengers by being impatient and not allowing a truck to pass safely. PLEASE BE PATIENT and wait for a more suitable gap in traffic.
This second clip provides an example of correct road-sharing behavior. Notice the car approaching in the driver’s side blind spot view with the intention of passing on the driver’s side of the truck. He passes the truck at a nice, steady speed and leaves plenty of space before signaling and changing lanes in front of the truck. In this case, even if something had happened and the car driver had to stop suddenly, the truck driver would have had enough time to respond and slow down or stop.
Merging in Front of a Truck
Merging is another situation that causes potential conflict between cars and trucks. Much like cutting trucks off, improper merging is dangerous because of the much longer stopping distances required for trucks. The following clip shows the dangers of improper merging in front of a truck. In the forward roadway view, you’ll notice a car in the far right lane signaling to merge onto the interstate. Clearly, this driver doesn’t want to be stuck in his current position so, rather than waiting for the truck to pass, he recklessly cuts across the path of the truck to the far left lane. The truck driver has to slam on his brakes to avoid colliding with the car.
The truck driver’s reaction is the perfect illustration of how dangerous this maneuver is. PLEASE BE PATIENT and wait for trucks to pass before changing lanes. A fully loaded truck weighs up to TWENTY TIMES more than a car. Who do you think will come off worst in the event of a collision? Ask yourself, is it really worth the risk?
The second clip provides an example of proper merging behavior. Notice the white pickup in the right lane of the forward roadway view. He’s moving at a nice, steady pace and is clearly visible to the truck driver. He signals well in advance of his lane change and merges safely in front of the truck before changing lanes a second time.
It is important to always remember that, due to their sheer size and weight, trucks don’t operate the same way that regular vehicles do. They typically need much more space and time than cars to carry out maneuvers such as braking/stopping, turning, speeding up. If you avoid driving erratically around trucks and give them plenty of time and space to maneuver safely, you’ll stay safe yourself.