After driving an 18 wheeler for the last fifteen years, I can honestly say, I have seen almost every type of driving situation imaginable. One of the things that aggravated me the most had to be the drivers in automobiles as well as pick-up trucks driving as though the road belonged to them and truckers had no business being there. Some examples of this type of aggressive driving occurs when the driver of an automobile is in the far left lane of a six lane highway. The driver suddenly remembers that the exit he/she needs to get off of is less that one hundred yards ahead. The driver, without looking to see what is coming, begins to speed up and head toward the exit. Big trucks are required by law to drive in the right two lanes of any interstate highway. If there is a big truck close to that exit, and the driver of that automobile simply has to beat the truck to the exit, there is going to be a major problem. Sometimes there is no collision between the two vehicles, but there are those times when patience on the part of the automobile driver does not show through and the two vehicles come together. Accidents like this are usually bad because of the speed the big truck is traveling and the speed and angle the automobile is traveling.
Contrary to popular belief by the general public, big trucks do not have eighteen brakes. An 18 wheel truck only has ten brakes, but that doesn’t mean a big truck can stop quickly. The average loaded big truck weighs between 60,000 to 80,000 pounds. That includes the weight of the truck as well as the load the truck is carrying. It generally takes the length of a football field to stop a fully loaded big truck. The distance it takes a big truck to stop also has a lot to do with the speed it is traveling. There are some big trucks that are owned by the driver that can go very fast, and those drivers will drive as fast as they deem required in order to get their loads to their destinations on time. Most company trucks however, are governed to a particular speed. Most company trucks on the road today are governed at 60 to 65 MPH. Even at the lower speeds a fully loaded big truck will take almost the full length of a football field to stop. logistics industry
There is a term in racing circles called drafting. This is when a car will move in close to the rear of another in order to save fuel by being pulled along. It also makes it easy for the car in back to sling shot around the car in front at the appropriate moment in order to win a race. In trucking, there are times when automobiles and other trucks apply the same drafting style. Most of the time this is done to get the big truck to pull the car along in the draft. This is very dangerous for a nomber of reasons. First, the driver of the car doesn’t have a clue as to what may be happening in front of the big truck. If there is a situation where the big truck suddenly applies the brakes in an emergency, the driver of the car may not have time to react to the situation and the automobile will slam into the rear of the trailer. It must be understood that the steel bumper attached to the rear of the trailer may or may not stop the forward momentum of the automobile. Depending on the speed the two were traveling at the time of the accident, the outcome of the crash will either just be major damage to the front of the automobile or the death of the driver and any passengers occupying the front seat. There is another danger that automobile drivers need to be made aware of when following too close. Any automobile or big truck driver that has driven any distance on any interstate highway can tell you of all the small and large pieces of tire scattered out on the highway. In the trucking world, this is called “gator”. The reason is because if you run over a good size piece of these pieces of blown out tires, they can do any amount of damage to your vehicle. Mufflers can be torn out, brake lines can be torn out, tires can be blown out as well. If an automobile is traveling too close to the rear of a big truck and one of the tires on the truck blows out the “gator” can go through the windshield of an automobile and severely injure or even kill the occupants of the vehicle.
I know that anyone reading this article will say, “You have no right telling me how to drive!”, and you are right, but knowing what the dangers are and how to avoid them will keep you alive and safe. Learning to respect big trucks and knowing they can get you and any number of other people killed because you were in too big of a hurry and did something you should not have done will mean the roads will be safer.