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7 Rules for Safe Driving Around Semis
Thursday, December 27th, 2012

This weekend, many of us will hit the road to see family for the holidays – and snow, rain and ice are expected to blanket much of the country.

Even the most cautious drivers need an occasional reminder about sharing the road with trucks. There has been an uptick in the number of fatalities in truck-related accidents: leading to the deaths of 3,675 people in 2010 in the U.S (NHTSA).

In Oregon and Washington, parts of I-5 and the I-84 corridor are particularly perilous due to the combination of dangerous weather conditions, extra travelers on the road, and a high volume of trucks that need to make deliveries before the holidays.

With that in mind, here are seven reminders sharing the road with semi-trucks:

  1. Pass a semi at a consistent speed, and always on the left. Trucks have a much longer blind spot on the right, so don’t pull back in front of a truck until you can see the entire cab and both headlights in your rearview mirror.
  2. Watch for lane drift in high-wind areas: one big gust can send a trailer into your lane of traffic.
  3. Give large trucks at least 6 seconds of passing space – or at least one car length for every 10 mph.  Tailgating a tractor-trailer can be very dangerous: your car can stop faster than a semi-truck, but if the driver brakes suddenly, the trailer may swing and you won’t be able to avoid it.
  4. Keep your headlights on.
  5. Keep your windshield wipers on if there is any precipitation accumulated on the road, even if it’s not currently raining or snowing. An 18-wheeler can kick up a lot of debris very suddenly.
  6. Don’t speed. Snowy, icy roads are dangerous, and the few minutes you might save are not worth risking your safety.
  7. Put your phone in the backseat. Distracted driving is dangerous, and the holidays are a terrible time to deal with pain and injuries from an accident. Make driving safely your primary task.

See also: Your annual reminder: winter roads are, in fact, dangerous

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