Staying safe when sharing the road with semi-trucks

In the Austin area, more than 220,000 vehicles travel on I-35 on a typical day. About 1 percent, or 2,200, are heavy trucks.

If you’re one of the 99 percent who drive a smaller vehicle, here are some steps you can take to keep yourself safe.

  • Be aware of a truck’s blind spots. Truck drivers can’t see if you are behind the trailer, immediately front of the cab, or driving on either side of the truck.  As a rule of thumb, if you can’t see the driver in the truck’s side mirror, then the driver can’t see you. You should keep out of truck driver’s blind spot except when passing.
  • Trucks take longer to stop than a car. A semi-truck, depending on its speed and weight, can take longer than a football field to stop.  As a result, keep plenty of distance between yourself and a following truck.
  • Watch trailers for unsecured loads. Be aware of the load a truck is carrying and how well objects are secured.  Any object that fall off a truck’s trailer can result in a fatal collision.

Driver awareness is key to keeping yourself on Texas roads.  Keep your distance from trucks whenever possible. Remember that trucks are more difficult to maneuver than cars, and truck drivers’ reaction times may be slower.  While federal motor carrier safety rules require truck drivers to take period rest breaks, many drivers violate those rules because they only earn money when they are on the road.