Sharing the road with a big, noisy truck can be scary, especially if you're driving an unfamiliar car rental. The length and width alone of these large vehicles can often create special driving situations for those operating smaller vehicles. In order to safely share the road with a truck, you need to be aware of its capabilities and limitations. The following are some important suggestions to remember the next time you're surrounded by transports in your independent rental car.
Make Sure You're Visible
If you're traveling behind a transport truck in the city, try and stay to the left of your lane, especially when stopping. This will make it easier for the driver of the truck to see you in his side mirror. Not sure if you're in the right spot? Take a look at the truck's mirror: if you can't see the truck driver's reflection, he/she probably can't see you either.
Be Aware of Roll Back
When pulling to a stop behind a transport truck, it's crucial that you leave plenty of room between the front of your vehicle and the rear of the truck. This will create a cushion of space between the two vehicles in the event the truck experiences roll back. Roll back occurs when the truck driver takes his foot off the brake and releases the clutch pedal. During these few seconds, the truck could roll back, sometimes as far as two or three feet. If the truck is carrying a heavy load, the driver may have to shift through multiple gears before it can really get going.
Tailgating kills, especially if the vehicle you're tailgating is a transport truck. The sheer size of the truck will almost totally block your view of the road, leaving the truck's brake lights as your only visual signal of trouble. Furthermore, you'll be trapped in the truck's blind spot, making it impossible for the driver to know your location.
Be Careful Not to Cut off a Truck Driver
If you're pulling your independent rental car in front of a truck, make sure you leave adequate space between the rear of your vehicle and the front of the transport. Remember: trucks can't stop quickly, especially if they're carrying a heavy cargo load. If you accidentally cut in front of a transport, you could cause the truck to jackknife, which could result in a serious accident.
Pay Close Attention to Truck Turn Signals
Many car rental drivers don't realize that a truck approaching an intersection to make a right hand turn may require both the right and left lanes in order to execute the maneuver safely. If you notice a truck in the left lane with their right turn signal on, don't try and squeeze in beside them. Cars that try and tuck in to the right of a transport that is turning could become vulnerable to a "squeeze" when the truck engages in the turn.
Know the Rules of the Road
When traveling on a multi-lane highway or freeway, remember to keep the middle lane clear. This is the lane that truck drivers use to pass slower moving vehicles in the right lane. In many states and provinces, truck drivers are actually forbidden from using the high-speed passing lane (far right). If you're traveling in the center lane in your independent car rental be sure you are traveling at the posted speed.
The same rules apply for passing a truck as for passing another car.
1. Check the traffic around your vehicle. You don't want to pull out if you're being overtaken by traffic from behind or if there is oncoming traffic approaching.
2. Once you've decided to pass – don't hesitate! Turn on your indicator and follow through as quickly and as safely as you can. Before moving in front of the transport, make sure you can see both of the truck's headlights in your rearview mirror (remember, cutting off a transport truck can have dangerous consequences!).
3. Finally, make sure you maintain your speed once you are in front of the transport truck. Nothing is more frustrating for a trucker than to be passed by a vehicle that immediately slows down once it pulls back into the lane.
These simple safety tips can go a long way to improving your independent rental car experience. For more information on sharing the road with transport trucks, please visit the Ministry of Transportation website in the region where you plan to travel.