Defensive driving requires that you anticipate the possible moves of the traffic around you. Anticipating the actions of other motorists is doable because you’re a motorist yourself. However, doing the same for semi-trucks is more difficult because their handling and maneuvering capabilities are radically different from any vehicle you are used to driving. It’s especially important to watch for dangerous maneuvers that some less-than-professional truck drivers might try. Here are three such maneuvers to watch for:
Quick Lane Switching
A semi-truck has big blind spots on its left and right sides. The careful truck driver copes with this by changing lanes gradually and by signaling his intention well in advance. Truckers who make rapid lane switches are aggressively competing with traffic to make headway. If you see a truck doing this maneuver once, assume it will do it again. Avoid passing the truck unless you can do it several lanes over. Keep in mind that passing the truck means you may have an aggressive truck driver on your tail.
If you choose to follow the truck, there is a remote possibility it might get into a rollover accident. This can happen when the truck driver gets too wrapped up in passing traffic and fails to take into account the possibility of a rollover caused by aggressive lane weaving on a curving section of the highway.
U-Turns and Backing Maneuvers
Some truck drivers exercise poor judgment about where to make a U-turn or back into a parking lot. They may attempt the maneuver on busy highways or on sections of the road with poor visibility, such as next to a blind corner or hill. When rounding corners or topping out on hills, slow down a bit just in case you find a big semi blocking your way. Do the same in fog or in heavy rain. Colliding with a trailer in these circumstances could mean an under-ride accident, which can be fatal.
Rushing Through Yellow Lights
This maneuver is dangerous enough when cars do it. However, when a trucker commits his rig to beating a yellow light, it won’t be able to stop or swerve if the light turns red and traffic in the cross lanes pulls into the intersection. Whenever you get a green light, always check for cross traffic. If you see a moving semi-truck, wait for it to get through the intersection.