The average weight of a motorcycle plus its rider is close to 1000 pounds. A tractor-trailer rig can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Given this vast difference between the two vehicles, a motorcycle collision with a truck is unthinkable. The tractor-trailer’s enormous size limits the trucker’s view of the space around his vehicle as well as his braking and steering. This means it’s very difficult for him to see you, and his options for evading you are limited. In short, your safety around semi trucks is up to you.
Motorcycle Safety Tips for Sharing the Road with Semi Trucks
- Stay away from the back-end of a truck. The big wheels of semi trucks kick up rocks and other debris from the road. What would only crack the windshield of a car, can severely injure the motorcyclist. Trailers with poorly secured loads can drop cargo on the road. Following close behind a rig limits your view of the road surface and debris lying on the pavement. This gives you no reaction time for avoiding a pothole or the odd two-by-four. If you can’t see the driver’s side mirrors, you’re too close.
- Beware of the truck’s no-zones. The no-zones of a truck are its blind spots. These are the areas immediately behind and in front of a truck, and on its left and right sides. The truck’s trailer prevents the driver from seeing anyone close behind the trailer, and the height of the truck’s engine hood blocks the driver’s view of anyone immediately in front of his bumper. Don’t pull in front of a truck until you can see the driver’s entire windshield in your mirrors. Never pass a truck on its right side because that is its largest blind spot. When passing on the left, first make sure the truck driver isn’t about to move into the lane. Then pass quickly. Keep to the far side of the lane.
- Beware of the truck’s air turbulence. Whether passing a truck from behind or riding by one in the opposing lane, be prepared for a blast of air that will push at you, and a partial vacuum effect that will pull you toward the truck. Use counter steering with a light grip on the handlebars to cope with this effect.