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III. Keeping a cushion of space around you
Sharing the road with large vehicles

It is very important to know how to safely share the road with large vehi­cles such as tractor-trailers and buses. Keep the following factors in mind:

  • Blind spots
    Large vehicles have large blind spots on both sides. Avoid following too closely behind a large vehicle. Not only does it block your vision, but the driver of the large vehicle will not be able to see you back there. If the vehicle has to stop suddenly, you might crash into it. Remember that, if you can’t see the driver’s face in his or her side-view mirror, the driver probably can’t see you.
  • Stopping distance
    Many drivers do not realize that large vehicles require a much longer distance to stop than smaller vehicles. When passing a large vehicle, do not cut in front too closely. Not only is it discour­teous, it is dangerous because it reduces the space cushion the large vehicle needs in order to stop safely if the need arises. When you are passing a large vehicle, make allowances for this longer stopping distance.
  • Wide turns
    When making a right turn, a large vehicle may need to first swing wide to the left and then back around to the right in order to avoid hitting the right curb. If a large vehicle in front of you is making a right turn, do not move up into the space that opens up in the right lane; you are putting yourself into a very dangerous position. Once the front of the large vehicle has cleared the corner, the rest will move partially back into the right lane. If you are in that lane, your vehicle will be squeezed between the large vehicle and the curb. Instead, stay well back until the truck has completely cleared the lane. This situation can also occur on expressway off-ramps that have two left-turning lanes. Do not drive up into the left lane when a large vehicle is making a left turn in front of you. Stay well back until the truck has cleared the turn, or else you may get squeezed between the truck and the curb.
  • Rolling back
    Leave plenty of room when you are stopped behind a large vehicle. When the driver of a large vehicle releases the brakes after being stopped, the large vehicle may roll back.
  • Spray
    In bad weather, large vehicles are capable of spraying up large amounts of mud, snow, and debris, which could hit your face shield and block your vision, or even worse, cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Stay well back from large vehicles in bad weather.
  • Turbulence
    Passing a large vehicle on a motorcycle or moped is difficult and can be dangerous. Due to various factors such as air pressure and airflow, a large vehicle can create heavy turbulence that can seriously affect your ability to control your vehicle when you are passing the larger one. If you must pass a large vehicle, try to relax and work with the air turbulence. After you pass through the first blast of turbulent air coming off the back of the truck, you will feel a stream of air either pulling you toward the truck or pushing you away from it, depending on wind direction. Lean away from the truck if the wind is pulling you toward it, or lean toward the truck if you are being pushed away. More turbulence will be waiting for you coming off the front of the truck. Lean into this wind as you pass in front of the truck.