5 Things You Need to Know About Trucks and Truckers
Trucks are complex pieces of machinery, operating them is a complicated job. Here are a few things the motoring public should think about when sharing the road with a truck:
1. A Truck Can’t Stop On A Dime
The person behind the wheel of an average car (weighing 3,000 or 4,000 pounds, and measuring 12-18 feet long) travelling 65 miles an hour in ideal conditions requires approximately 360 feet to come to a full stop. Truck drivers are operating vehicles that measure 70 to 80 feet long and weigh up to 80,000 pounds. It takes 44 percent more distance for trucks to come to a full, safe stop – that’s more than 500 feet. Pulling in front of a truck on the highway and then using your brakes is an extremely dangerous maneuver. If you must do it, ensure you give yourself ample amount of space to maintain your speed.
2. No Jack Rabbit Starts for Trucks
Commuters can become impatient when they get stuck on an interstate behind a truck. A car can reach highway speed in just seconds – but consider the fact that a commercial truck, depending on geography and its load, can take much more time to get up to speed, especially when climbing hills. If possible, showing courtesy, we pull over into the truck lane and display our flashers indicating we are below normal speed. When you see this, we’re not trying to disrupt your day. We’re going the speed we have to in order to get our load up the hill.
3. Trucks Need Extra Space to Corner
You’ll see trucks pull wide to the left prior to initiating a right-hand turn. Inter-city driving may require wide swings while making a turn. Other drivers should show caution while trucks navigate the turn. Drivers do this to avoid running up over a curb, or hitting traffic poles set close to the curb, or – more importantly – pedestrians standing on the curb at an intersection. But a 90-degree turn in traffic still makes this a really tight squeeze. Consider stopping a bit further back from the stop line or light if you see a tractor trailer at the intersection to your left at the intersection. This will give the truck extra space and allow us all to breathe easier and make the turn safely.
4. Trucking Is Key to Our Economy
Most goods are transported via truck. In 2012, trucks moved 9.4 billion tons of freight, generating $642.1 billion in revenue. Just remember the adage “If you bought it, a truck brought it.” Our industry employs nearly seven million people and pays $36.5 billion in federal and state fees and taxes. Trucks move more than 60 percent of freight for Canada and Mexico, making them essential to the economies of our NAFTA partners as well. Even a day or two without trucks on the road would have a noticeable effect on consumers, businesses and the overall economy.
5. Drivers are Educated and Trained to Do a Difficult Job
There’s a really bad joke I’ve heard, and it goes like this:
A trucker is trying to deliver 50 penguins to the zoo when his rig breaks down. He flags down another driver. “I’ll give you $500 to take these penguins to the zoo for me,” he says. The other driver agrees.
Later, the first trucker sees him leading the penguins across a street, single file. “What are you doing?” he says. “I told you to take them to the zoo!”
The second driver replies, “I did, and I have enough money left over to get them ice cream.”’
That’s one of the tamer jokes about truckers out there. It’s a common stereotype that we commercial drivers don’t have a lot going on upstairs. We just roll with it, but the truth is that commercial driving is a complicated operation, and drivers are skilled at what we do.
To maintain our licenses and safety credentials we undergo rigorous training related to everything from dealing with inclement driving conditions to handling various cargos including hazardous materials, and we’re constantly getting more training and getting tested. We work in compliance with multiple laws and regulations on a daily basis.
Most of the drivers I know are hard-working, safety-conscious professionals. We take great pride and pleasure in our careers and perform an essential service for our neighbors on the road. Being aware and knowing how to share the road with trucks helps everyone stay safe, and at the end of the day everyone on the road gets to where they need to go and home to their dinner table safely with their families.