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With Trucks … Keep your distance

Published:Sunday | October 25, 2020 | 12:06 AMPaul Glenroy Messam - Contributor

Trucks occupy a lot of road space. They can truly block your view when reading the road ahead. They differ in size, speed, and vehicle capability although some smaller trucks, such as pickup and panel trucks, perform much like motor cars.

Norris Christian, a trained instructor at Advanced Driver Training Centre, encourages drivers to avoid tailgating large vehicles. “You will be able to see farther ahead by maintaining a greater following distance.”

If you drive too close to any big truck, you will not be able to read the road effectively. However, by increasing following distance, a driver can see farther ahead. Drive nearer to the right edge of the lane when following a truck. Your motor vehicle will then be visible to oncoming drivers. Then move back to the centre of the lane while meeting oncoming vehicles.

Christian explained that large trucks travel as fast as cars but that trucks do not reach highway speeds as quickly. “They are designed to carry heavy loads, not for rapid acceleration.” He says a driver should plan to overtake a truck when that truck driver has to shift several gears to gain speed. Such places include the crest of a hill and when leaving a stop sign or a traffic light after a stop.

Drivers must bear in mind that there is not much room when meeting large trucks on a narrow two-lane high way. Move slightly to the left in your lane, check the position of the truck in its lane, look well ahead, and drive in a straight line. Another point to bear in mind is that when meeting trucks, you may feel your vehicle being moved sideways by a wind, however, hold the steering wheel firmly to stay on track.

He gives a reminder of the following defensive driving pointers to prevent unnecessary accidents:

1 Do not follow a large truck so closely that its driver cannot see you in the rearview mirror or your view of the road ahead is blocked.

2 Increase your following distance so that the truck or bus driver can see your car and you can see the conditions ahead of the larger vehicle.

3 Larger vehicles take a slightly longer time to stop than cars do. Also, on wet roads a large vehicle may be able to stop more quickly because of better traction and stability. Therefore, it is best to allow for a greater following distance to avoid rear-ending the larger vehicle.

4 It takes a longer time to overtake a big truck or bus on a level pavement than it does to pass a motor car. They often lose speed climbing a hill, like Spur tree, or Melrose Hill, therefore, larger vehicles may be easier to pass on an upgrade.

5 When you meet a large vehicle coming from the opposite direction, stay over to the left to avoid a sideswipe accident and to reduce wind turbulence between the two vehicles.

6 Pay close attention to a large vehicle’s turn signals. Trucks and buses may make wide left turns, leaving an open space to their left. Do not pass a truck or bus on the left. There is a possibility that it may make a left turn.

7 Always leave a space in front, whenever you stop behind a parked truck or bus, especially when it is positioned uphill. This can be very cautionary if the truck rolls back slightly when starting.