Sharing Florida roads with big trucks likely is not one of your favorite activities. Should you hit one or be hit by one, you and your passengers face a far higher risk of injury than the truck driver given the size disparity between your vehicle and the truck.
Here are the top five things you should know about semi trucks.
1. Commercial carriers
A commercial carrier is a truck used in someone’s business. All commercial truck drivers must obtain a commercial driver’s license before driving one. Common commercial carriers include the following:
- Tanker trucks
- Vehicle transport trucks
- Delivery trucks
- Cattle transport trucks
2. Sizes and weights
Most commercial carriers are big, heavy vehicles. A normal tractor-trailer with two trailers extends 53 feet in length and weighs more than 80,000 pounds when loaded. Your vehicle, in contrast, probably weighs around 3,000 pounds.
3. The “no zone”
Each commercial carrier has a “no zone,” the area behind it and on either side of it where the driver cannot see you or other vehicles. Be aware that when you come up on a big truck, its driver cannot see you when you are directly behind it and as you begin to pass it on either its left or right side.
Unfortunately, large commercial carriers have the tendency to jackknife when their driver attempts to stop too quickly or when the truck starts to skid on wet or icy roads. A jackknifing tractor-trailer represents a major hazard to you and any other vehicles in the vicinity because once it begins jackknifing, i.e., folding in on itself, there is no way to predict where it will go, where it will come to rest, or whether or not it will still be upright when it does.
5. Hazardous materials
Virtually any type of truck can carry hazardous materials. While a tanker truck’s shape alerts you to the fact that it carries gasoline or other flammable fluids, other trucks likewise can carry hazardous materials that are solids, liquids or gases. If a truck displays the hazardous materials emblem on it, be especially careful when approaching or passing it. You and your passengers face a substantial risk of becoming seriously injured in a fire or explosion should an accident occur.
Avoiding a crash with a truck is even more important than avoiding a crash with another passenger vehicle. Your best strategy when approaching a commercial vehicle is to give it the widest possible berth.