People may have noticed tractor-trailers driving through unexpected urban locations. Eighteen-wheeler big rigs, also called tractor-trailers, are large trucks hauling products across long distances.

Lack of funding for road building or widening means city traffic planners must merge large trucks onto passenger vehicle roads that were never designed to handle loaded 80,000-pound freight vehicles. There is a reason why the average 4,000-pound passenger vehicle sustains catastrophic damage when a semi-truck collision occurs.

Drive to survive

Additional complications occur with distracted drivers behind the wheel. The person who looks at his phone for 5 seconds to read or send a text has traveled the length of a football field during that time. Many people think nothing of “blind” driving several times a day, which can be catastrophic when a big rig comes into the mix.

Reactive driving vs. defensive driving

Many motorists drive reactively. They do not prepare for a sudden change in traffic patterns or potential threats around them. When semi-trucks are traveling on interstate roads or city feeders, drivers can take precautions. Reactive driving—waiting until an emergency occurs before reacting—is little help when it comes to big rigs.

Part of defensive driving includes using safety strategies. Never pass a truck on the right—it contains a substantial blind spot. Big trucks contain blind spots around the entire vehicle. A smaller vehicle should never dart in front of a truck as the big rig does not have the same ability to quickly stop.

Smart driving when trucks are on the road means giving them plenty of space and leaving room to maneuver when traffic behaves erratically. Drivers should continually scan the road ahead for developing patterns and always look for an escape route should someone get too close. Passenger vehicles are safer when they let trucks stay well in front and move as far away across lanes from the truck as possible. Safe driving is worth a few extra minutes of travel delay.