Maintain a Safe Following Distance – Stay out of the Rear No-Zone

The rear blind spot, or no-zone, is located behind the trailer of the truck and results from the truck driver having only side rearview mirrors to rely on. The rear no-zone extends nearly 200 feet from the back of the truck, which is roughly the length of half a football field. If you are any closer than this to the back of a truck then you are following too closely and are essentially invisible to the truck driver.

Following too closely behind a truck is dangerous for a number of reasons. First, you have no idea what’s in front of the truck on the road ahead. If the truck driver passes over debris on the road, like a truck tire, you won’t see it in time to safely avoid hitting it. Secondly, trucks carry cargo that may move and fall from the truck onto the road. If you’re following too closely, you’ll have no room to avoid colliding with anything that falls in front of you. Finally, by following too closely to the back of a truck, you cut off your own view of the traffic flow ahead. If the truck driver has to brake suddenly – for instance, if another driver cuts in front of the truck – you won’t have enough time and space to avoid crashing into the back of the truck.

Incorrect following distance
Correct following distance

Crashing into the back of a truck results in a specific type of crash called an “underride,” where the front end of the car is pushed under the rear of the truck’s trailer. This type of crash can be especially dangerous if the truck isn’t equipped with an adequate underride guard, as the bottom rear of the trailer is about head-level for an adult seated in a car. This means the only thing between your head and the rear of the trailer is the car’s windshield, which will obviously provide zero protection from such an impact.

This is NOT a scenario you want to find yourself in so STAY BACK!!

RULE OF THUMB: LOOK FOR THE TRUCK DRIVER’S MIRRORS AS YOU ARE FOLLOWING. IDEALLY YOU WANT TO BE FAR ENOUGH BACK TO SEE THE MIRRORS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE TRUCK. BUT, AT A MINIMUM, YOU SHOULD SEE THE MIRRORS ON THE LEFT DRIVER’S SIDE.

Unlike the other clips on this website, this clip was filmed on the test track at VTTI to specifically show a car following a truck too closely. The first view in the clip is from the car driver’s perspective. Neither of the truck’s side mirrors are visible to the car driver, so it’s clear that he’s following too closely. At this distance and speed it would be nearly impossible to avoid any obstacles on the road or cargo falling off the back of the truck. The next view in the clip is from the back of the truck’s trailer. From this view it’s easy to see how quickly the car driver would need to react to avoid a rear-end crash if the truck was to stop suddenly. The car driver leaves himself no room for recovery if something unexpected were to occur. Remember, unexpected things happen ALL THE TIME on the roads. Avoid putting yourself in this very dangerous situation by staying back from the truck in front of you. Following a truck too closely accomplishes absolutely nothing. So ask yourself if it’s really worth the risk!