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safety tips for new drivers to stay safe around trucks

Understanding how to safely navigate around big rig trucks on the road is a vital skill every new driver needs. With their enormous size, limited visibility, and long braking distance, these large vehicles present unique challenges.

This article will provide valuable advice that fathers should share with their young drivers about staying safe around commercial trucks. 

Key Takeaways

  • New drivers should be aware of the size and weight disparities between their vehicles and big rig trucks, as well as the longer stopping distances required by these large trucks.
  • Understanding the blind spots and limited visibility of big rig trucks is crucial for new drivers in order to avoid accidents caused by being in these "No Zones."
  • It is important for new drivers to give big rig trucks extra space, avoid aggressive driving, and be cautious when merging or passing. They should also refrain from sudden lane changes or cutting off trucks.
  • Defensive driving techniques such as maintaining a safe following distance, anticipating truck maneuvers, observing traffic signs and signals, and staying alert are essential for new drivers to stay safe around big rig trucks.

Understanding the Difference: Big Trucks vs Other Cars

Big rig trucks are significantly larger and heavier than regular vehicles, making it crucial for new drivers to understand the disparities in size and weight.

Size And Weight Disparities

Navigating around big rig trucks can be daunting for new drivers, largely due to the noticeable size and weight disparities. The average car weighs in at about 4,000 pounds while large trucks or big rigs can tip the scales at a whopping 80,000 pounds - that's 20 to 30 times heavier than your typical sedan.

This significant weight difference not only affects a truck's maneuverability but also impacts its stopping distance. Compared to a smaller vehicle like your teenager’s first car, these behemoths require much more space to come to a complete halt safely.

It is crucial for newbie drivers to understand this factor when sharing roads with such heavy-duty vehicles. So advise them on adjusting their driving behavior accordingly, especially maintaining sufficient spacing between their vehicle and the truck ahead of them.

Blind Spots And Limited Visibility

Understanding the blind spots and limited visibility of big rig trucks is crucial for new drivers. These behemoths of the road have extremely large blind spots on both sides of the tractor, along with the front part of the trailer.

This means that truck drivers don't always see smaller vehicles lurking in these zones, referred to as "No Zones". Allowing awareness about this can increase road safety significantly.

It is not common knowledge, but there are also less visible areas located right in front of big rigs. In fact, only 20-24% people understand that truck drivers can't spot them when they're in these specific locations.

For a safer experience around 18-wheelers, new drivers ought to know about these hidden zones along with other challenges posed by limited visibility due to factors like bad weather or dim light conditions.

Longer Stopping Distance

Handling the wheel around big rig trucks requires special awareness due to their longer stopping distance. A tractor-trailer weighing 80,000 pounds traveling at a speed of 65 miles per hour needs approximately 600 feet to stop.

This weight and momentum contribute to an enhanced stopping distance in contrast to smaller passenger vehicles. For instance, if a truck is driving at 60 mph on dry pavement, it requires almost 335 feet for a complete halt.

New drivers must acknowledge this expanded braking time while cruising near these mammoth vehicles on roadways. Cutting off or closely following such hefty machines jeopardizes safety as it becomes challenging for them to brake abruptly due to their increased braking time.

Essential Safety Tips for New Drivers

Give trucks extra space and avoid aggressive driving. Stay at a safe distance from big rigs on the road, and always drive in a calm and controlled manner.

Give Trucks Extra Space And Avoid Aggressive Driving

It's important for new drivers to understand that giving trucks extra space and avoiding aggressive driving is crucial for everyone's safety on the road. Trucks are much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, which means they need more time and distance to come to a complete stop.

By maintaining a safe following distance, you'll give yourself enough time to react if the truck suddenly brakes or slows down. Plus, aggressive driving maneuvers like tailgating or cutting off trucks can put you in their blind spots, increasing the risk of accidents.

So always remember to drive defensively around big rigs by keeping your distance and avoiding any unnecessary aggression.

Be Aware Of Truck Blind Spots And Avoid Staying In Them

Truck blind spots, also known as "No-Zones," are areas where smaller vehicles can easily disappear from a truck driver's view due to their size and height. To ensure your safety around big rig trucks, here's what you need to know:

  • Avoid driving directly alongside a truck, especially on the passenger side. This is one of the biggest blind spots for truck drivers.
  • Understand that in front of the truck and directly behind the trailer are also blind spots where the driver has limited or no visibility.
  • Make it a point to stay out of these blind spots by either speeding up or slowing down when necessary.
  • Remember that rear - view and side mirrors may not always provide an accurate reflection of these blind spots, so be proactive and look over your shoulder as well.

Use Caution When Merging And Passing Trucks

Stay safe on the road by following these tips when merging and passing trucks:

  1. Maintain a safe distance: Keep a good distance between your vehicle and the truck to ensure you have enough time to react if needed.
  2. Signal your intentions: Use your turn signal to let the truck driver know that you intend to merge or pass. This will help them anticipate your actions and adjust their driving accordingly.
  3. Check blind spots: Before changing lanes or merging, make sure to check the truck's blind spots. These are areas where the truck driver may not be able to see you, so it's important to be cautious and avoid lingering in these zones.
  4. Accelerate with caution: When merging onto the highway or passing a truck, accelerate smoothly and with caution. Sudden movements can startle the truck driver and increase the risk of an accident.
  5. Give plenty of space: Don't cut off a truck after merging or passing. Give them ample space to maintain a safe distance between your vehicles.
  6. Be aware of wind gusts: Large trucks can create strong wind gusts as they pass by. Be prepared for this sudden shift in air pressure, especially if you're on a motorcycle or driving a smaller car.
  7. Follow traffic rules: Observe all traffic signs and signals when merging or passing trucks. Stick to speed limits and follow any instructions given by road signs for safe maneuvering around large vehicles.

Avoid Sudden Lane Changes Or Cutting Off Trucks

  • Sudden lane changes can startle truck drivers and potentially lead to accidents.
  • Cutting off a truck can hinder its ability to stop quickly, which is especially important considering their longer stopping distance.
  • Give yourself ample time and space to make lane changes safely, always using your turn signal to indicate your intentions.
  • Make sure you have enough clearance before merging into a lane in front of a truck.
  • Plan ahead and be aware of upcoming exits or turns so you can change lanes safely without disrupting the flow of traffic.
  • Remember that trucks have larger blind spots than regular vehicles, so they may not see you if you suddenly dart in front of them.
  • Avoid squeezing between a truck and the curb or another vehicle, as this can lead to dangerous situations with limited space for maneuvering.
  • Cutting off trucks not only puts yourself at risk but also jeopardizes the safety of everyone on the road.

Remember, being considerate and cautious around big rig trucks is crucial for everyone's safety. By avoiding sudden lane changes or cutting off trucks, you are doing your part to create a safer driving environment. Stay aware, make smart decisions, and prioritize the well-being of yourself and others on the road. Drive responsibly!

Importance of Defensive Driving Techniques

Maintain a safe following distance to allow for ample reaction time in case of sudden stops or maneuvers by the truck.

Maintain a safe following distance

One important aspect of defensive driving that dads should share with new drivers is the importance of maintaining a safe following distance when sharing the road with big rig trucks. Large trucks require extra space between vehicles to allow for safe braking and unexpected actions.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recommends at least 4 seconds of distance when driving behind commercial trucks up to 40mph, while the FMCSA suggests a safe following distance of 1 second for every 10 feet of vehicle length. The common element here is to make sure to give truck drivers plenty of space to maneuver.

By keeping a safe following distance, new drivers can give themselves more time to react and avoid potential accidents on the road.

Maintaining a safe following distance is not only crucial but also one of the easiest, yet commonly broken rules of defensive driving. It's essential for new drivers to understand that perception of a safe following distance can vary from one driver to another.

That's why it's recommended to use objective guidelines like time or vehicle lengths rather than relying solely on personal judgment. By checking mirrors every few seconds, drivers can maintain 360 degrees awareness at all times, helping them gauge their position in relation to nearby big rigs and making sure they have enough space in case sudden maneuvers are needed.

Anticipate and react to potential truck maneuvers

Anticipating and reacting to potential truck maneuvers is crucial for new drivers to ensure their safety on the road. Here are some important tips to keep in mind:

  • Observe the behavior of the truck driver: Pay attention to the signals and actions of the truck driver, such as turn signals or lane changes. This can give you an idea of their intentions and help you anticipate their next move.
  • Maintain a safe following distance: Trucks require more time and space to come to a complete stop due to their size and weight. It is recommended to keep a distance of at least four seconds behind a truck to allow for adequate stopping time.
  • Be cautious when passing: When passing a big rig truck, do it quickly but safely. Stay in the truck's field of vision, accelerate smoothly, and maintain a consistent speed while passing. Avoid cutting off the truck or merging back into its lane too soon.
  • Watch out for wide turns: Trucks need wider turning lanes due to their length and size. Be aware of this when driving near trucks, especially at intersections. Give them enough space and avoid trying to squeeze past them during a turn.
  • Use your mirrors effectively: Regularly check your mirrors for any trucks approaching from behind or in adjacent lanes. Keep in mind that trucks have large blind spots, so make sure you are visible to the truck driver before changing lanes or merging.

Observe Traffic Signs And Signals

To stay safe around big rig trucks, it is crucial to observe traffic signs and signals. These signs and signals serve as important guidelines for defensive driving techniques. They provide valuable information about speed limits, lane directions, and potential hazards on the road.

By paying attention to these signs and signals, you can better anticipate other drivers' actions and adjust your driving accordingly. This is especially important when sharing the road with large trucks, as their size and weight require extra caution.

So remember, keeping an eye out for traffic signs and signals is a simple yet effective way to ensure your safety while driving near big rig trucks. Stay alert, follow the rules of the road, and keep everyone safe.

Stay Focused And Minimize Distractions

Maintaining concentration and reducing interruptions is of utmost importance when it comes to safe driving. Distractions during driving can impair your ability to navigate the road safely, putting yourself and others at risk.

Activities like answering or making calls, texting, browsing the internet, and using social media divert your attention from the task at hand – driving. By focusing solely on the road and disregarding distractions, you can significantly enhance safety on the road for everyone involved.

So remember, stay focused and minimize distractions to ensure a smooth journey.  If involved in an incident, you should get help from a truck accident lawyer. By selecting a representative who's a specialist you can make sure to have an advocate to help reduce penalities for situations where you are to blame and get as much compensation as you are entitled to if it is the truck driver to blame instead.


In conclusion, it is essential for new drivers to receive advice from dads about staying safe around big rig trucks. Understanding the differences and potential dangers of sharing the road with these large vehicles is crucial.

By following safety tips, practicing defensive driving techniques, and being aware of their surroundings, new drivers can navigate safely and confidently when encountering big rigs on the road.

Remember, responsible driving habits around commercial trucks not only protect yourself but also contribute to overall road safety. Drive smart, stay safe!

Written by:
#MenWhoBlog MemberBlogging GuruThought Leader

James' passion for exploration and sense of duty to his community extends beyond himself. This means he is dedicated to providing a positive role model for other men and especially younger guys that need support so that they can thrive and be future positive contributors to society. This includes sharing wisdom, ideas, tips, and advice on subjects that all men should be familiar with, including: family travel, men's health, relationships, DIY advice for home and yard, car care, food, drinks, and technology. Additionally, he's a travel advisor and a leading men's travel influencer who has been featured in media ranging from New York Times to the Chicago Tribune, and LA Times. He's also been cited by LA Weekly "Top Travel Bloggers To Watch 2023" and featured by Muck Rack: "Top 10 Outdoor Journalists for 2022".

He and his wife Heather live in St Joseph, Michigan - across the lake from Chicago.