Sharing the Road with Trucks

Riding near large vehicles can be frustrating and unsettling, especially to novice riders. Try to be patient. You can help prevent accidents by being predictable and avoiding erratic maneuvers.

Tips for riding near large vehicles

Don’t ride in blind spots. Although most large trucks have several mirrors, it is easy for a motorcycle to be hidden in a semi’s blind spot. If you’re riding near a tractor-trailer, be aware of the “no zone”—blind spots on the right, left, front and rear of the vehicle.

Motorcyclists should avoid “No Zones” around commercial trucks and buses.
Motorcyclists should avoid “No Zones” around commercial trucks and buses.

Don’t tailgate or try “drafting.” Unlike passenger cars, trucks and buses have deep blind spots directly behind them. Attempts to save fuel by “drafting” close to the rear of a truck greatly increases your chances of a rear-end collision.

Don’t linger alongside large vehicles. The area immediately surrounding a semi is the riskiest place you can ride. Wind gusts can cause the trailer to drift unexpectedly or even roll over. And cruising alongside a big rig is the last place you want to be when a tire blows.

Pass safely. Be sure to use your turn signals when overtaking a large truck. Always pass on the left side for maximum visibility and maintain a consistent speed. Be sure to allow plenty of space between your bike and the truck when you merge back over. A good rule of thumb is to make sure can see the cab in your mirror before pulling in front.

Watch out for wide right turns. Truck and bus drivers sometimes need to swing wide to the left in order to safely negotiate a right turn. They cannot see cars directly behind or beside them. Cutting in between the commercial vehicle and the curb or shoulder to the right increases the possibility of a crash.

Look out, he’s backing up! When a truck is backing up, it sometimes must block the street to maneuver its trailer accurately. Never cross behind a truck that is preparing to back up or is in the process of doing so. Remember, most trailers are eight and a half feet wide and can completely hide objects that suddenly come between them and loading areas. Motorcyclists attempting to pass behind a truck enter a blind spot for both drivers.

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