Making Turns In A Semi Can Be Dangerous - And Comical Too!

by Rhonda

Any driver in a semi will either see, or be involved in these types of events with any amount of time behind the wheel. There is often a lack of driving etiquette from the others who share the road with us. Their actions sure make a mess of things at turns, and I will never ever understand why the game of "chicken" is involved between a car and a big truck. Sometimes our size just freaks them out and they just want to get out of the way! Sometimes they get in the way and don't even know it - at least not at first!

I had a car behind me who just could not wait as I made my left turn. As I turned onto the 4 lane divided city street with my tandems next to that curb divider, that blasted car passed me on the left and went up and over the curb nearly striking the tractor on the drivers door!! I was furious! This was a young driver and naturally there were no cops around when you need one.

Major city. Summer time. Noon hour. Construction being done on the southbound lanes of a 3 or 4 lane road both ways so one lane in the north bound lane is for south bound traffic. I just came off the Interstate and am on the ramp first in line. What a mess. Going to be a very tight left turn and their might be no room depending on what traffic does. Traffic cones everywhere and even if I swung to the right as much as I dared so I could maybe have a better chance of clearing the car next to my south bound lane, the traffic behind me will try passing me on my left and create a bigger headache.


My light turns green and I proceed slowly and keep an eye on the left side so no one can pass me. I had to be very careful since the southbound lanes are now gone and there is that huge drop off. The car first in line on the road I'm turning onto stops ahead of the white line and there is no way I can make the turn. 6,000 witnesses and everyone can see we are now stuck and I am blocking the intersection along with the cars behind me from the ramp. The woman in the car just looks at me like its my fault. I set the air brakes. That has a good effect!!! I remember some north bounders laughing at the car and they were giving me the "glad its you and not me". Woman just kept looking at me like she's waiting for me to move. I told her, "If you had stayed behind the white line you wouldn't have caused this mess!" The three cars behind her had left enough room so she had to back up. By now a lot of people became impatient and horns were blowing. Finally she backed up and I was able to safely make the turn.

For you newbies, and others too, you may wonder why I didn't turn right. I was in the left lane on the ramp and not the right lane. Also, in some cities you will find that on the off ramps, trucks can only go one direction because the other direction is restricted for trucks. You also cannot just sit and wait for traffic to clear at a busy intersection. It never will.

Another time I was on a wide city street, and looking for my right turn into a customer whose street was also a wide one. As I approach my corner, a car arrives at the stop sign. I turn on my turn signal and another car stops behind the first car. Now I am turning and I am about 8 feet from the cars and the trailer tandems are about 4 feet from the curb. Car 2 decided to get out of my way when I was bent like an "L"with my wheels cranked to the right and I see him go forward and to the right and bump into the first car!

Another time I made my turn and a car was coming onto the residental street. They slammed on the brakes and backed up two city blocks to get out of my way (someone warn them I was coming?!). I laughed.They must have had a bad experience with trucks using this route. There was plenty of room for us to meet up and pass without mishaps.

Each turn you do is different, and you never know what to expect. There are many examples like these, and the ones I shared are just a few of them. You need to be alert and watching closely when you are making turns in a semi.


Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".


Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".


Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).


Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.


Operating While Intoxicated

by Brett Aquila

Related Articles:

Your "Other Half" In A Truck Driving Career

by Karen

This story is based on my life, my emotions and my experience. I know there are “other halves” out there that will be able to relate.

What's A Desert Dude Doing Driving In A Blizzard?

by Farmer Bob

I live in the desert. Blowing sand is common, and we have days when roads are closed due to blowing sand, but not snow! Oh man, here comes a blizzard!

More Snow? Now What's A Desert Dude To Do?

by Farmer Bob

Just when I thought it was spring time and there would be no more truckin in the snow, man was I wrong! Tire chains, tow trucks, and more adventures!

Dealing With Load Planners

by Karen

Truck drivers often have a tough time dealing with dispatch because of misunderstandings. But for new truck drivers it can be even tougher to handle.

Truck Driving In Winter Weather

by TruckerMike

Before I became a truck driver, there was nothing better than a good snow storm, sliding around in my 4-wheeler. But that was then, and this is now!

Inside Trucking Part 3: Life On The Road

by Rhonda

An inside look at life on the road from a trucker's perspective.

A Trainer's Perspective On Teaching Students How To Shift

by TruckerMike

I recently became a certified CDL instructor and I was given my first students to train on shifting gears. Here's the story, and some advice for newbies

The Unexpected Call

by TruckersWife09

Home time is precious to an over the road driver and their family, and it's painful when it gets cut short by an unexpected call from the company.

Important Truths For Rookie Drivers: Surviving Your First 6 Months

by lucky13

So how does a new driver survive their hectic, stressful, tiring, demanding, and incredibly challenging first 6 months on the job? Here's my advice...

Your Trainer Will Test You On Far More Than Just Your Driving Skills

by Old School

As a rookie truck driver you're going to face enormous challenges and be tested continuously. I learned a great lesson about how tough CDL training can be.

Join Us!

We have an awesome set of tools that will help you understand the trucking industry and prepare for a great start to your trucking career. Not only that, but everything we offer here at TruckingTruth is 100% free - no strings attached! Sign up now and get instant access to our member's section:
High Road Training Program Logo
  • The High Road Training Program
  • The High Road Article Series
  • The Friendliest Trucker's Forum Ever!
  • Email Updates When New Articles Are Posted

Apply For Paid CDL Training Through TruckingTruth

Did you know you can fill out one quick form here on TruckingTruth and apply to several companies at once for paid CDL training? Seriously! The application only takes one minute. You will speak with recruiters today. There is no obligation whatsoever. Learn more and apply here:

Apply For Paid CDL Training

About Us

TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

Read More

Becoming A Truck Driver

Becoming A Truck Driver is a dream we've all pondered at some point in our lives. We've all wondered if the adventure and challenges of life on the open road would suit us better than the ordinary day to day lives we've always known. At TruckingTruth we'll help you decide if trucking is right for you and help you get your career off to a great start.

Learn More