Sun | Jan 26, 2020

How to manoeuvre around trucks on the road

Published:Sunday | December 8, 2019 | 12:13 AM

Because of their sheer size and peculiarities, it takes much more focus and sharper judgement for one to get around trucks, and similarly large units, when on the road. Whether you’re a motorist, pedestrian, or cyclist, there are several precautions that you should take in order to avoid danger and, in many cases, spare lives.

Below are some tips provided by JN Bank, which offers commercial financing for vehicles such as heavy-duty trucks, from information provided by Tank-Weld Equipment Limited, dealers of Shacman heavy-duty trucks, and the All-Island Truckers’ Association to assist persons to safely travel alongside trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles when on the nation’s roads.

Tips for pedestrians and cyclists

- When walking or riding through a crowd on to a road, stop and watch carefully before attempting to cross. At times, containers, chassis, or flatbeds being hauled by a tractor head are not visible to an individuals making their way through a crowd because the chassis or flatbed is lower in height than the tractor head. Therefore, one has to be very cautious when crossing so as not to underestimate the length of the moving unit. If not, an individual could run the risk of ending up between the wheels of the tractor head and the chassis or flatbed.

- When crossing the road, do not walk directly under the nose of the truck or any large unit. It’s a blind spot for most truck drivers; therefore, it’s very possible that he/she will not be able to see you when the unit is in motion, which puts you in danger.

- Similarly, do not walk or ride behind trucks or other large units as it’s almost impossible for you to be seen by the driver. If you cannot see the driver in the spot mirror, or even see the spot mirror at all, it’s very likely that the driver cannot see you.

Tips for motorists

- When you hear the horn of a truck as you’re approaching a corner, stop. Trucks must negotiate corners widely in order to make it around the bend, especially when hauling other units. Therefore, it’s unwise to drive down into the corner when travelling in the opposite direction of the truck. The unit will be unable to pass, and it could result in danger for you.

In addition, when tractor heads with trailers are negotiating corners, the inside rear wheels of the trailer are closer to the corner than the tractor head. Therefore, when the making tighter turns, the rear of the trailer is not visible to the driver. As a result, pedestrians and motorists travelling behind the trailer must do so cautiously.

Also, when on a hill, because it’s difficult for trucks to stop and move off safely, especially when loaded, motorists could end up forcing truck to stop unnecessarily, causing traffic congestion.

- When in traffic, do not overtake a truck or any large unit in order to take the space left between the truck and the vehicle it is travelling behind. Bear in mind that the truck driver was deliberate in leaving the space in front of him because it’s difficult to see vehicles, especially small cars, that are directly under the front or nose of the tractor head. Also, trucks, especially when loaded, need more distance to stop in an emergency than normal cars.

- When driving behind a truck, if you are not able to see its driver through his spot mirror, it almost always means that he is unable to see you, too. Therefore, you should maintain a safe distance when travelling behind a truck or any large unit.

- When overtaking a moving truck or trailer hauling another unit, always bear in mind that you will need to have space twice the size or more of the truck or trailer in order to overtake safely. This is because the truck is in motion, and you will, therefore, have to travel a longer distance in order to overtake it. When overtaking, you are not just overtaking a 10-foot tractor head hauling a 40-foot container, for example. In this case, you would need to be conscious that you need at least 100 feet to safely get around the trailer. Failure to exercise this kind of judgement has led some motorists to collide with oncoming vehicles. Again, motorists should make sure there is enough space so that when they overtake and or apply their brakes, the truck has enough space to stop safely.

Precautions for truckers

- Truckers must ensure that their units are properly illuminated. Many truckers fail to have the proper lights on their vehicles because they are sometimes plagued by thieves. However, there are other devices that they can rely on, such as reflective tape, that are not prone to theft. Truckers must ensure that their vehicles are well lit and visible to all road users, especially at night.

- Conversely, truckers should also be cognisant of the fact that their lights can be dangerous to other motorists. Truck drivers are elevated above the main beams of a car and, as a result, are not affected as much as by bright lights from oncoming vehicles. However, many tractor heads have spot lamps facing the rear of their trucks so that that they can see the trailer wheels in a turn. This can be very dangerous for motorists who are following behind the truck. Therefore, motorists should always maintain a safe distance.