In my last post, I spoke a little bit about what truck drivers do on the road that can irritate 4-wheelers. This post is intended to help people understand what irritates us truck drivers.
Merging, especially in congested areas, can be very stressful to a truck driver. I pay very close attention to people when they merge and I don't think a lot of people realizethat they aren't even looking until it's too late. I will look in the mirror of a car and I can see the drivers face. Usually, the first time the driver even looks in the mirror is when there is 100ft of the lane remaining before they need to move over. Our trucks are 60ft long! Please look for us as soon as you begin coming down the ramp, and decide whether you are going to pull in front of us or slide in behind us. If you want to get in front of us, that's fine. Just hit the gas soon enough so that you can move over with ample space. Don't wait until the last second to either cut in front of us or slam on the brakes to get behind us. I can't tell you the number of times I've seen somebody come slowly down the ramp, only to get stuck beside me, then punch the gas when they are on the expressway. If you'd just punch the gas on the ramp instead, we wouldn't have had a problem? Capiche?
This happens time and time again. A car will pass me, move over leaving very little cushionroom, then hit the brakes. I don't think people really realize they are doing this. But they will speed up to get around us, move in front of us, see they are speeding, then hit the brakes to slow down. When we see your brake lights come on after you moved over with only 1 or 2 car lengths in front of us, it's dangerous, annoying, and raises our blood pressure just a little bit. If you need to ease off the gas, no problem. But please avoid hitting the brakes. Our blood pressure will thank you.
We have a lot of blind spots in our trucks. But the right side of our truck is often referred to as our "blind side" and for good reason. We can see much better on the left side. If we move over into your lane for some reason, we have a reason for being there and will move back over into the right lane as soon as we can. Please don't get impatient and pass us on the right. Moving over to the left lane is usually a good indication there is a hazard up ahead that you didn't see, so that should serve as even more incentive to stay behind us. There's usually some reading material on the back of our trailers and mud flaps. Enjoy it for a minute!
We have absolutely no way to see behind our trailer. Usually, the only reason I know somebody is back there is because I can see their shadow. You don't have to "tailgate" us for us to not be able to see you. Leave extra room. You'll be glad you did if we have a tire blow out on us or fling a nice sized rock at you. You might see the sticker on some trucks that says "if you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you." This isn't a lie we just made up. It's true. We might know you're back there, but we can't see ya. This is also important when we are stopped at a light, especially on a hill. Most trucks have manual transmissions. This means we might roll back a little bit before the truck starts moving forward. Leave lots of space. Being right up on us won't make us move any faster. The hood of your car will especially appreciate this advice.
For some reason, a lot of people feel the need to get right up next to us, then match our speed. Any little gust of wind could drift our trailer into your lane. And if we blow out a steer tire, you could be toast. A lot of truckers, myself included, will hit our turn signal if you're riding next to us for an extended period of time. We aren't trying to be jerks. We're simply saying "move along, please." Also, we might see a hazard up ahead that will require us to move over. So we'll hit our turn signal to let you know we're comin' over. Make a decision, either get in front of us, or get behind. Doesn't matter either way. Just get out of the way! Thank you.
It never fails in a large city. I'll be driving down the expressway and see a sign reading "This lane ends, 1/2 mile." Naturally,I hit my turn signal and start looking to get over. The result? Cars piling up in the lane next to me because nobody wants to be stuck behind a truck. Eventually, I'm forced to do something I don't like to do. I start riding the line and very slowly creep over. Eventually, people get the point and start to scatter out of my way. All the while, people are thinkingI'm unprofessional, flipping me off,and calling the 800 number to tellmy company thatI almost took out 5 cars. Ok, well, I don't think anybody has actually called my company. But people clearly get upset.Someplaces are worse than others (I'm looking at you Jersey!!).I don't have a choice folks! Eventually, somebody is going to have to let me in. Can't you be the good guy for me? I'd surely appreciate it!
Thankfully, I don't deal with this very often, but most local truck drivers deal with it every single day. A stop light turns red, and a car cuts in front of the truck then brakes for the light. Not a good idea folks. You could have 80,000lbs. coming through the back window of your 5,000lb. car. It's even worse to do that with a tanker truck. All that liquid surges forward. When the truck stops, it surges back, than forward again. This can make the truck "jump" forward and push you right into the intersection. I know your time is precious and we might make you 4 or 5 minutes late to wherever you're going, but hitting the brakes in front of us is a very bad idea. So cut it out!!!
Since many of you aren't aware, I'll let you know right now. At intersections, there are these white lines on the pavement. Really, they are there! I swear! And those white lines are measured so that trucks can make turns in the intersection. Be especially aware of this if you're in the left turn lane. Not only will our trailer cut into that lane, but if we're making a right turn, we may have a curb to clear, so we will swing out into that left turn lane. Even if you're behind the line, if you see a truck coming that is going to need to make a turn, back up a little for us. Even if we don't necessarilyneed the room, it's nice if we know we won't have to worry about you at all. We understand that you need to get close enough to the line to trip the stop light, and that sometimes it's not possible to back up. That's ok. But when it is possible, please do so. Also, if we start to make our turn and see we won't be able to make it without hitting you, we aren't backing up. We will stop and wait for you to move. Even if that means a line of cars behind you has to back up first. We're sitting right there until you're able to get out of the way. It's just a safety issue. We aren't trying to be jerks. Although, I must say, when a car isn't moving, I do get a kick out of setting the air brakes. Nothing gets the message across better than the "whoosh" of the brakes being set. Yup, I'm not movin' til you're out of my waypeople!
Generally, when I need to make a delivery, the customer is right off the expressway. But sometimes, I have to go into town to find the place. It's usuallya town I'm not familiar with, and my directions are less than stellar. Should I miss my turn, it might take me 5 or 10 miles to find a place to turn around. Or worse, I might end up on a weight restricted road or a road with low bridges. So I'm going to drive way below the speed limit to ensure I make all my turns correctly. I do feel bad when you get stuck behind me doing 25 in a 40 mph zone, but please understand why I'm doing this. Giving up a few minutes of your time could literally save an hour of aggravation for me. Besides, I might have something in my truck that you'll really want at the store next week. I gotta get it to you first!
I could probably go on forever. And truckers, feel free to use the comment section to list anything I forgot to mention. I'm not complaining in this post. Really, I'm not. I truly believe most people on the road just don't know any better. They don't know why we do certain things and don't understand what is dangerous around trucks and what isn't. A large part of that is due to our drivers education system. I don't think they covered trucks at all when I went through drivers ed. No better time to start like the present!
Until next time, drive safely!
When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.
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