Most Australians have become accustomed to driving in a congested mix of cars, bikes, trucks and buses. However, this familiarity means that over time many forget or choose to ignore the dangers when travelling close to trucks.
Truck drivers do their best to drive safely on our roads, but all motorists have a responsibility to keep clear of truck blind spots and avoid the many other known dangers when driving with trucks.
In this article, we give you several driver safety tips and teach you how to spot truck blind spots.
Learn the truck blind spots
A blind spot is where a driver loses sight of other vehicles. Trucks come in all shapes and sizes, but the one thing they all have is blind spots. Knowing the location and scope of these blind spots or danger zones can help you avoid catastrophe. Truck blind spots are:
Directly behind the truck.
On each side of the truck.
Directly in front of the truck and extending into the left-hand lane.
Beside the truck's left door.
The golden rule is: if you can't see the driver's face in his side mirrors, move quickly so you can.
Don't linger at the side of a truck
Even though the law says to keep left unless overtaking, many motorists on the highway choose to "sit" in the middle lane. This practice puts everyone at risk, especially when people "sit" beside a truck in its blind spot. If the driver needs to change lanes for any reason, there could be big trouble. So, keep left and pass trucks decisively and safely.
Trucks need twice as much time and room to stop than cars do. That's why you should never cut in front of a truck. Remember there's a blind spot right in front! It's a good idea to wait until the whole front of the truck is in your rear-view mirror before pulling in front.
Tailgating is also a big no no. The driver can't see you and you have no clue what's happening up ahead. Back off until you can see both left and right side mirrors.
Keep clear for wide left turns
Truck drivers often need to swing wide to the right to make a left turn. Ignoring a truck's indicators could see you squeezed between the truck and the curb. Always pay attention to truck indicators, keep clear and give trucks room to turn.
Other safety tips for drivers
Here are a few other really useful tips to make sure your next encounter with a truck is a safe one:
Always signal well in advance when stopping or turning, to give truck drivers ample time to avoid you.
Deactivate cruise control when overtaking a truck. You will want to increase speed to pass and minimise time spent in a truck's blind spot. Of course, ensure your higher speed is a safe speed.
Be observant. Look at the truck's mirrors to see if the driver sees you.
Never cut in front of a truck that's slowing down.
Never walk around or drive around a truck that is reversing.
Truck drivers, including those in the heavy haulage industry, do their part to make sure they drive safely. However, it is also the duty of other drivers to be keep clear of blind spots, give trucks room to move and drive safely and predictably.
NHH has an enviable record in truck driver safety. As mass freight and heavy lift specialists, we work hard to operate no accidents, no damage and most importantly no worker injuries.