SHARING THE ROAD WITH TRUCKERS
Today, there are more vehicles on the road than ever. That's why it's
especially important to be conscious of other drivers who share the
road with us. Take tractor-trailers, for example. Such large and
heavy vehicles require special consideration as you encounter them
in your travels.
As tension on the road increases, hostility between truckers and
other motorists continues to grow as well. It is our responsibility
as drivers to be both respectful and safe on the road. Understanding
truckers is the first step toward better relations. Perhaps by
understanding their situation, and by learning how to work with them,
we can do our part to diminish the problem.
As with other operators, the overwhelming majority of truckers are
courteous, careful, and highly skilled. They're professionals whose
"office" happens to be the road. Truckers have a very difficult job.
They have a responsibility to get a large vehicle with a heavy load
to a destination, often with a very tight deadline. As traffic on
the roadways becomes more congested and drivers become more
aggressive, a trucker's job becomes more difficult.
Many truck drivers work away from home for two- or three-week
periods. Some company drivers share the cab of a tractor with
another driver, driving for four hours and trying to sleep for
four hours. If we consider the number of times they have
experienced inconsiderate acts by other operators in their many
miles, we can begin to understand truckers' frustration.
Truck drivers usually communicate by flashing their lights or by
CB radio. When one truck passes another, the vehicle being passed
flashes his headlights on to signal to the passing driver that the
passing move is complete and the trucker is clear to pull back into
the lane. If a driver is running with headlights on, the driver
might turn them off briefly to give the same signal. Naturally,
a trucker knows when his or her truck has cleared the vehicle
being passed, but they signal each other in this manner as a
greeting or as evidence of the respect they have for each other.
Once the passing vehicle has started to move back into the lane,
the passing driver will usually acknowledge the flashing of
headlights by flashing either the clearance lights on the back of
the trailer, or four-way or emergency flashers. RVers can learn to
communicate with each other and with truckers in the same manner.
Remember to observe trucks you are passing to determine if the
headlights are on so you will not misinterpret the headlight signal.
Some trucks run with their headlights on; others have daytime
running lights just as other vehicles do.
Headlights are also used to communicate when another vehicle is
entering an expressway. If a trucker encounters another truck
entering the expressway, he will briefly turn on his headlights to
signal the other driver and will create space for the vehicle.
The trucker will also use this signal when passing another truck
on a multi-lane highway if the truck being passed is quickly coming
upon another vehicle and preparing to pass. Once both vehicles are
past the slower vehicle, the other driver will pull back into the
right lane and allow the second truck to finish his pass. If the
exchange takes place when headlights are in use, the driver in the
overtaking vehicle will momentarily turn off his headlights.
RVers can do the same as truckers. Vehicles equipped with daytime
running lights may have a switch that enables the driver to
momentarily turn off the headlights. In vehicles equipped with
daytime running lights that cannot be turned off, during daylight
hours drivers can turn on their high beams and leave them on for a
few seconds. The signal will not be misinterpreted for a passing
signal if performed in this manner. Some trucks are equipped with
lights that are on all the time, and they use this method to signal
The CB radio is also a helpful communication tool, but many times
things happen so quickly that it is easier to use the lights as a
signaling device. Whenever the CB radio is used, truckers always
refer to the other vehicle by the company name or the brand name
of the tractor, often referring to the color as well. This specific
identification is used because a radio signal travels a good distance
and another driver may misinterpret the message.
Working Together with Truck Drivers
There are lots of little things we can do to help our companions on
the road. On those occasions when a truck passes you on an interstate
and you soon approach a hill that will cause you to catch back up
with it near the top of the hill, disengage your cruise control.
Follow the truck up to the crest of the hill with the knowledge that
after you top the hill, the truck is going to be out of your range.
Another thing we can do to make truckers' jobs a little easier is to
become more aware of parking in rest areas. Often we see rest areas
filled with recreation vehicles parked right in the center near the
rest rooms. The rest areas may be so full that a trucker can't stop
to use the facilities. A more considerate way to handle parking at
rest stops is to stop in the outlying lanes or, if the area is
fairly full, park along the side or at the end of the rest area away
from the marked lanes. Handle overnight stops in the same manner.
If you use the truck pumps to fill your vehicle, when you are
finished you should pull forward far enough to open up the fuel lane
for a truck or another RV (especially at a Flying J RV island) before
you go in to pay your bill. In a service area, stop your motorhome
and signal a trucker that it is okay to pull out in front of you so
he doesn't have to wait. Truckers do these things for each other-so
Being "Truck Smart"
There's very little room for error or ignorance around
tractor-trailers. Following are some safety tips from the
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation:
Stay out of a trucker's blind spots or "No Zone," where your vehicle
is not visible by the trucker. Because trucks are so much bigger than
cars, they have bigger blind spots. If you can't see the truck
driver's face in the side mirrors, the trucker can't see you.
When you pass a truck, do it carefully-and do it quickly. Don't
linger. Riding alongside could put you in the trucker's No Zone.
Never pull in front of a truck and slow down. You will quickly
eliminate the truck driver's cushion of safety and create a very
Keep to the right when a truck is passing you. You may even want
to slow down to make passing you easier for the trucker.
Keep your distance when you see a truck backing or turning.
These can be difficult maneuvers, so help out by leaving plenty of
You will feel increased wind turbulence when passing a truck or
when a truck passes you, so adjust your steering appropriately.
Keep your cool. No matter what happens on the road, you can't let
your emotions get the best of you while you're driving.
Following these safety tips will increase your safety on the road
and will go a long way toward building good relationships between
RVers and truckers. And even if you don't get the desired result
from a trucker, you can feel good knowing you did the right thing.
Frank Warren, a professional driver for Yellow Freight, says it
best: "There has to be a two-way street when it comes to safety
and courtesy. The truck driver and the motorist must learn to live
with one another out on the highway. We've got to respect each