There’s no avoiding it, no matter which kind of passenger vehicle you drive, sharing the highways with huge and abundant semi-trucks is a reality of the road. Drivers of automobiles and motorcycles have their share of gripes for truckers. Our What NOT To Do page shares the other side of the story, the most important safety tips, helpful advice and pet peeves from truck drivers.
Should I Pass a Semi-truck On the Right Side?
There are indeed times when it will be necessary to overtake a slow moving 18-wheeler truck on the highway. Here’s how to do it, how NOT to do it and why it matters.
Reasons to Avoid Passing a Truck on the Right Side
The largest blind spot area — that area invisible to the driver when behind the wheel – will be on the right side of the truck. Passenger vehicles take a larger gamble when passing on the right for the simple reason that during your pass, you may remain invisible to the truck.
Intersection Right Turns
Just because a truck is in the left lane approaching an intersection does not mean it will remain on its present course. Many trucks require a large swing to the left in order to achieve a right hand turn. Pulling into that path on the right spells danger.
Bigger Vehicle, Longer Stop Time
Some 18-wheelers can reach a total of 80,000 pounds. A 5,000 pound passenger vehicle does not stand a chance in a matchup. When braking, it can take the length of several football fields for a semi-truck to completely stop. Passing on the right, in a non-traditional passing lane, can create an unsafe scenario that drivers are trained to look for, but may not be anticipating.
Poor Driving Practice and a Big Pet Peeve
Safety on the road also means being a contributor to good driving practice. Passing lanes in America are designated as left hand lanes in most locations. A right hand pass may be necessary in some circumstances, but should remain a last resort or emergency option. Slow trucks may annoy passenger motorists, but in order for safety and peaceful driving to rule to road, keep your passing to the left.
Veteran trucker, Robert Allen, who runs the Real Truck Driver Blog adds a twist on this common pet peeve, saying, “I also get pissed off when I am going the speed limit, and a car passes me, then slows down to less than the speed that I am traveling and he or she is not exiting, but just does not want to be behind a semi truck.”
How to Safely Pass a Semi-Truck
The safest option for passing a semi-truck is on the left side, where you have a passing lane available. Always use a turn signal, and after completing the pass, do not cut directly in front of the truck. Accelerate a safe distance beyond the truck, signal again, and move back into the right lane if desired.
Although passing on the right should normally be avoided, this fail video shows how NOT to pass a truck on the left:
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