Tips for 4-Wheelers

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Truck Handling Characteristics and Limitations Introduction

This chapter is for the benefit of most of you who have not driven a big rig, probably never will and have little knowledge of trucks.  I will describe some aspects of driving my truck that are typic … Read the full tip

Caution Zones Introduction

BASICS The chapter on Risk Zones focuses on personal vehicle moves into and out of risk zones from behind and in front of trucks on the open highway (typically on interstates or major highways with t … Read the full tip

Truck Length

Turning The most obvious characteristics of my truck are its size and weight.  Total length of my tractor trailer is about 73 feet.  This is without the folding/unfolding spoiler (also called “tr … Read the full tip

Truck Width

Width of my trailer is 102 inches.  Maximum width of my truck including the side mirrors on my tractor is about 118 inches (nearly 10 feet).  So the spare space for me even in standard-width traffic … Read the full tip

Truck Height

As mentioned in the Vision tip, an important advantage the height of my truck affords is a good view of road conditions and traffic ahead of me.  There are a couple of disadvantages, one being the po … Read the full tip

Truck Weight

Total allowable weight of my truck including freight is 80,000 pounds in most states.  My tractor weighs about 21,000 pounds including fuel and me, and an empty dry van trailer weighs around 14,000 p … Read the full tip

Lights

Truck Lights and Their Functions It has been my experience that my truck signal lights don’t get enough attention from some personal vehicle drivers occupying certain positions around my truck.  T … Read the full tip

Vision

Basics The key vision advantage I have in my truck is a higher observation point than you have in your car or pickup truck.  I can look well ahead over the tops of personal vehicle traffic, spot pos … Read the full tip

Vision—Advanced Notes

Basics The sections of this Advanced Vision tip contain detailed and somewhat technical and complicated descriptions of my tractor’s mirrors and views they provide.  Some description from the prim … Read the full tip

Hearing

As you would probably guess, the noise level in my truck cab is higher than that in most personal vehicles. This is in spite of improved sound-proofing in the relatively new model I drive. On surface … Read the full tip

Truck Horns

While I may not hear your personal vehicle’s horn on the open road (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, usually in rural areas) or … Read the full tip

Acceleration and Speed

As you no doubt have observed, big trucks accelerate slooowly, from a standing start or in motion.  My truck is no exception and because it has a relatively small engine block with less power, gets u … Read the full tip

Brakes and Stopping

Service Brakes Air brakes (service brakes) are the primary means of slowing and/or stopping big trucks such as mine.  In conventional systems, braking is performed with compressed air in lines leadi … Read the full tip

Steering

As you would expect, steering such a large vehicle takes extra care.  Power steering eliminates “muscling” the steering wheel as was necessary with early model trucks.  In good weather on a leve … Read the full tip

Transmissions and Shifting

Manual Transmissions There are obvious differences between manually shifting a personal vehicle through its gears and doing so in a truck.  A truck has more forward gears, required to get to and mai … Read the full tip

Suspension/Ride/Tires

Suspension and Ride The ride in my truck is an additional, if not primary, factor for me to deal with when driving. When cruising on a new, smooth highway, I enjoy a ride that approaches that in a … Read the full tip

Risk Zones Introduction

Assume you are driving close to my truck on the open road (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, usually in the countryside) and it is … Read the full tip

Risk Zone: Close and Directly Behind My Truck

Definition of “Close” and Following Distance Guidelines By “close” behind my truck I mean a distance less than the distance your personal vehicle travels in one second.  For example if my tr … Read the full tip

Risk Zone: Close Behind My Truck but in the Left Lane Next to Mine, Where I Can See You in My Large Left Mirror

Risk Zone Pluses and Minuses On multi-lane highways or streets, drivers often settle in the lane to my left with the front of their personal vehicles even with, or only one or two car lengths behind … Read the full tip

Risk Zone: Close Behind My Truck but in the Right Lane Next to Mine, Where I Can See You in My Large Right Mirror

Risk Zone Pluses and Minuses As a general rule, risk zones on my right side are more hazardous than the corresponding positions on my left.  Optics are more restrictive--the distance between me and … Read the full tip

Risk Zone: Alongside the Rear Section of My Trailer on My Left Side, Where I Can See You in My Large Left Mirror

Risk Zone Pluses and Minuses There are pluses and minuses for you in this risk zone extending from the trailer tail to the tandems in their full forward position.  On the plus side, you may feel sec … Read the full tip

Risk Zone: Alongside the Rear Section of My Trailer on My Right Side, Where I Can See You Partially in My Large Right Mirror and Fully in the Small Convex Mirror Below It

Risk Zone Pluses and Minuses The pluses and minuses for you in this risk zone, extending from the trailer tail to the tandems in their full forward position, are similar to those in the corresponding … Read the full tip

Risk Zone: Alongside the Middle Section of My Trailer on My Left Side, Where I can See You Partially in My Large Left Mirror and Fully in The Small Convex Mirror Below It

Seeing You When you’re in the left lane next to mine on the open highway (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, usually in the coun … Read the full tip

Risk Zone: Alongside the Middle Section of My Trailer on My Right Side, Where I can See You in The Small Convex Mirror Below My Large Right Mirror

Seeing You When you’re in the right lane next to mine on the open highway (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, usually in the cou … Read the full tip

Risk Zone: Alongside the Front of My Trailer on My Left Side, Where I Can See You in the Small Convex Mirror Below My Large Left Mirror

Seeing You When you’re in the left lane next to mine on the open highway (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, usually in the coun … Read the full tip

Risk Zone: Alongside the Front of My Trailer on My Right Side, Where I Can See You in the Small Convex Mirror Below My Large Right Mirror

Seeing You When you’re in the right lane next to mine on the open highway (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, usually in the cou … Read the full tip

Risk Zone: Alongside My Tractor on My Left Side, Where I Can See You out My Left Side Window and in the Convex Mirror over My Tractor’s Left Front Fender

Seeing You When you’re in the left lane next to mine on the open highway (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, usually in the coun … Read the full tip

Risk Zone: Alongside My Tractor on My Right Side, Where You Show Up in the Convex Mirror over My Tractor’s Right Front Fender but Only Partially out My Right Side Window

Seeing You When you’re in the right lane next to mine on the open highway (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, usually in the cou … Read the full tip

Risk Zone: Alongside the Front of My Tractor on My Left Side, Where I Can See You out My Left Side Window but Only Marginally in the Convex Mirror over My Tractor’s Left Front Fender

Seeing You When you’re in the left lane next to mine on the open highway (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, usually in the coun … Read the full tip

Risk Zone: Alongside the Front of My Tractor on My Right Side, Where You Do Not Show Up Well Directly out My Right Side Window or in the Convex Mirror over My Tractor’s Right Front Fender

Seeing You When you’re in the right lane next to mine on the open highway (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, usually in the cou … Read the full tip

Risk Zone: Close and Directly in Front of My Truck

When You Have Passed Me When passing my truck on the left or even the right on the open road (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, u … Read the full tip

Risk Zone: Close in Front of My Truck and in the Left Lane Next to Mine

When You Have Passed Me When passing my truck on the left or even the right on the open road (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, u … Read the full tip

Risk Zone: Close in Front of My Truck and in the Right Lane Next to Mine

When You Have Passed Me If you are in the right lane next to mine on the open highway (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, usually … Read the full tip

Government Regulations and Other Influences on Driver Behavior Introduction

This chapter describes conditions other than the physical operation of a truck that impact how drivers perform their work.  Government regulations emphasizing safety, and employer safety and operatio … Read the full tip

On Duty and Drive Time Regulations Versus Miles-Based Driver Pay

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Agency (FMCSA) Regulations Federal Motor Carrier Safety Agency (FMCSA) Regulations are detailed and voluminous, filling a large book.  Here is a description of some key … Read the full tip

Proposed Speed Limit Rule

In August 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requiri … Read the full tip

When You Enter a Highway Introduction

There are certain events that draw truck drivers’ close attention as we travel on a highway, either on the open road (in sparse traffic, usually in rural areas) or in heavier traffic.  One of these … Read the full tip

When You Enter the Right Lane of a Controlled Access Highway

Basics Vehicles already on a highway have the right of way, and this rule is especially important when the highway traffic flow is at or near highway speeds.  The problem is that personal vehicle dr … Read the full tip

When You Enter the Right Lane of a Controlled Access Highway on the Open Road

Basics On the open road (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, usually in rural areas), driving at or near highway speeds through the … Read the full tip

When You Enter the Right Lane of a Controlled Access Highway from the Right Lane of Another Controlled Access Highway

Cloverleaf Interchange Basics Risks in interchanges connecting one interstate or major highway with another may be underappreciated by some drivers.  Exits and entrances are more complicated and req … Read the full tip

When You Enter the Left Lane of a Controlled Access Highway

Navigating Complicated Highway Interchanges and Ramps Most of the more complicated exit/entry ramps are on heavily travelled city freeway interchanges in which major highway routes join each other or … Read the full tip

When You Enter an Uncontrolled Access Highway

Minor and back highways (with one lane in each direction, typically with no median separating the lanes and with surface street and/or driveway entries and exits) are often just a means for me to conn … Read the full tip

When You Exit a Highway Introduction

There are certain events that catch truck drivers’ close attention as we travel on a highway, either on the open road (in sparse traffic, usually in rural areas) or in heavier traffic.  One of thes … Read the full tip

When You Exit a Controlled Access Highway from the Right Lane

When You Exit from the Right Lane of a Controlled Access Highway to a Minor Highway or Surface Street Personal vehicle exits from the right lane on the open road (typically on interstates or major hi … Read the full tip

When You Exit the Right Lane of a Controlled Access Highway to the Right Lane of Another Controlled Access Highway

Cloverleaf Interchange Basics Risks in interchanges connecting one interstate or major highway with another may be underappreciated by some drivers.  Exits and entrances are more complicated and req … Read the full tip

When You Exit a Controlled Access Highway from the Left Lane

Navigating Complicated Highway Interchanges and Ramps Most of the more complicated exit/entry ramps are on heavily travelled city freeway interchanges in which major highway routes join each other or … Read the full tip

When You Change Your Mind in Mid-Exit on a Controlled Access Highway

When You Change Your Mind in Mid-Exit on a Controlled Access Highway on the Open Road One of the most hazardous things you can do is to suddenly pull out of your exit just as you reach the ramp entra … Read the full tip

If You Take an Emergency Crossover on a Controlled Access Highway

A rare but hazardous and illegal maneuver that I’ve witnessed on an interstate was made by a personal vehicle driver, probably a tourist, who wanted to make a U-turn.  The driver slowed down in the … Read the full tip

When You Exit an Uncontrolled Access Highway

Minor and back highways (with one lane in each direction, typically with no median separating the lanes and with surface street and/or driveway entries and exits) are often just a means for me to conn … Read the full tip

When I Enter a Highway Introduction

There are certain events that should draw the close attention of personal vehicle and truck drivers  as they travel on a highway, either on the open road (in sparse traffic, usually in rural areas) o … Read the full tip

When I Enter the Right Lane of a Controlled Access Highway

Basics On the open road (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, usually in the countryside), drivers can easily spot my truck on most … Read the full tip

When I Enter the Right Lane of a Controlled Access Highway from the Right Lane of Another Controlled Access Highway

Cloverleaf Interchange Basics Risks in interchanges connecting one interstate or major highway with another may be underappreciated by some drivers.  Exits and entrances are more complicated and req … Read the full tip

When I Enter the Left Lane of a Controlled Access Highway

Navigating Complicated Highway Interchanges and Ramps Most of the more complicated exit/entry ramps are on heavily travelled city freeway interchanges in which major highway routes join each other or … Read the full tip

When I Enter an Uncontrolled Access Highway

Minor and back highways (with one lane in each direction, typically with no median separating the lanes and with surface street and/or driveway entries and exits) are often just a means for me to conn … Read the full tip

When I Exit a Highway Introduction

There are certain events that should draw the close attention of personal vehicle and truck drivers  as they travel on a highway, either on the open road (in sparse traffic, usually in rural areas) o … Read the full tip

When I Exit a Controlled Access Highway from the Right Lane

When I Exit the Right Lane of a Controlled Access Highway to a Minor Highway or Surface Street My exits from the right lane on the open road (typically on interstates or major highways with two or mo … Read the full tip

When I Exit the Right Lane of a Controlled Access Highway to the Right Lane of Another Controlled Access Highway

Cloverleaf Interchange Basics Risks in interchanges connecting one interstate or major highway with another may be underappreciated by some drivers.  Exits and entrances are more complicated and req … Read the full tip

When I Exit a Controlled Access Highway from the Left Lane

Navigating Complicated Highway Interchanges and Ramps Most of the more complicated exit/entry ramps are on heavily travelled city freeway interchanges in which major highway routes join each other or … Read the full tip

When I Exit an Uncontrolled Access Highway

Minor and back highways (with one lane in each direction, typically with no median separating the lanes and with surface street and/or driveway entries and exits) are often just a means for me to conn … Read the full tip

Tips for 4-Wheelers Introduction

OBSERVATIONS AND TIPS FOR 4-WHEELERS FROM A FRIENDLY TRUCK DRIVER These articles on how to deal safely with large trucks (18-wheelers) are primarily intended for student and novice drivers of person … Read the full tip

Passing Me Introduction

There are several references to passing in other chapters, and this chapter will draw from those and will include other aspects and situations.  The observations and advice in this chapter will be ba … Read the full tip

Passing You Introduction

There are several references to passing in other chapters, and this chapter will draw from those and will include other aspects and situations.  The observations and advice in this chapter will be ba … Read the full tip

Following Me

When cruising behind my truck on the open highway (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, usually in rural areas), I hope you will avoi … Read the full tip

Following You

Similar to the passing basics advised for you in the Passing Me chapter, I work to allow adequate distance behind you while following you.  A general guideline for truck drivers’ following distance … Read the full tip

Passing Me Basics

Reminders As advised in Risk Zone and Caution Zone tips, the first important reminder is not to dawdle behind or alongside my truck in any of the risk zones, but to get on by briskly when practical, … Read the full tip

Passing You Basics

To help you and other drivers when I’m preparing to change lanes or exit a highway or interstate, I can usually signal a long enough time to give adequate notice.  On multi-lane highways and inters … Read the full tip

Passing Me on Grades

Passing Me Going Uphill When you’ve passed my truck and returned to the right lane in front of it as we’re going uphill, your lead threshold (minimum lead distance) decreases as my truck’s spee … Read the full tip

Passing Me in Bad Weather and/or Bad Road Conditions

Driving on Snowy and Icy Road Surfaces My truck’s weight enables it to track more steadily than personal vehicles through rain water but not necessarily over snow or ice.  Thick-treaded snow or al … Read the full tip

Passing Me While Towing a Trailer or Driving a Large Motor Coach

Passing Me Some personal vehicle drivers are simply not used to towing trailers and are unaware of lane encroachment, and others are seemingly just careless.  Their inexperience or carelessness is e … Read the full tip

Cutting in Front of Me

On the open road (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, usually in rural areas), some personal vehicle drivers travel at speeds so muc … Read the full tip

Passing Me on the Right

When you are in the right lane next to mine on the open highway (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, usually in rural areas) or in t … Read the full tip

Passing You on the Right

Passing Middle Lane Drivers On the open highway (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, usually in rural areas), there are few occasio … Read the full tip

Passing Me When I’m Backing

Searching for Docks Finding and backing to docks is one of my most difficult tasks.  In spite of the best GPS technology and input from customers, local directions from highways to docks via surface … Read the full tip

Passing Me on Two-Lane Highways

Passing Me on Major Two-Lane Highways Two-lane highways (with one lane in each direction, typically with no median separating the lanes and with surface street and/or driveway entries and exits) are … Read the full tip

Passing You in Bad Weather and/or Bad Road Conditions

Driving on Snowy and Icy Road Surfaces My truck’s weight enables it to track more steadily than personal vehicles through rain water but not necessarily over snow or ice.  Thick-treaded snow or al … Read the full tip

Passing You on Grades

Passing You Going uphill On extended grades I do not pass many vehicles.  My truck slows down going uphill, and often I have to control my truck’s speed going downhill by downshifting and using en … Read the full tip

Passing You When You’re Towing a Trailer or Driving a Large Motor Coach

Passing You Some personal vehicle drivers are simply not used to towing trailers and are unaware of lane encroachment and others are seemingly just careless.  Their inexperience or carelessness is e … Read the full tip

Passing You on Two-Lane Highways

Passing You on Major Two-Lane Highways Two-lane highways (with one lane in each direction, typically with no median separating the lanes and with surface street and/or driveway entries and exits) are … Read the full tip

Caution Zone: Close Behind My Truck and Two lanes to the Left of Mine

Seeing Vehicles Two Lanes to My Left When your vehicle is close behind my truck and two lanes to the left of my lane, your vehicle’s image shows up in the outer portion of my truck’s large left m … Read the full tip

Caution Zone: Close Behind My Truck and Two lanes to the Right of Mine

Seeing Vehicles Two Lanes to My Right When your vehicle is close behind my truck and two lanes to the right of my lane, your vehicle’s image just shows up in the outer edge of my truck’s large ri … Read the full tip

Caution Zone: Even With the Rear Section of My Trailer on My Left Side, and Two Lanes to the Left of Mine

Seeing Vehicles Two Lanes to My Left When your vehicle is even with the rear section of my trailer (from the tail to the trailer tandems at their full forward position) and two lanes to the left of m … Read the full tip

Caution Zone: Even With the Rear Section of My Trailer on My Right Side, and Two Lanes to the Right of Mine

Seeing Vehicles Two Lanes to My Right When your vehicle is even with the rear section of my trailer (from the tail to the trailer tandems at their full forward position) and two lanes to the right of … Read the full tip

Caution Zone: Even With the Middle Section of My Trailer on My Left Side, and Two Lanes to the Left of Mine

Seeing Vehicles Two Lanes to My Left When your vehicle is even with the midships (middle) section of my trailer (even with the trailer’s midships turn signal/emergency flasher light) and two lanes … Read the full tip

Caution Zone: Even With the Middle Section of My Trailer on My Right Side and Two Lanes to the Right of Mine

Seeing Vehicles Two Lanes to My Right When your vehicle is even with the midships (middle) section of my trailer (even with the trailer’s midships turn signal/emergency flasher light) and two lanes … Read the full tip

Caution Zone: Even With the Front of My Trailer on My Left Side, and Two Lanes to the Left of Mine

Seeing Vehicles Two Lanes to My Left When your vehicle is even with the front of my trailer (even with the trailer headwall and just behind my tractor’s drive wheels) and two lanes to the left of m … Read the full tip

Caution Zone: Even With the Front of My Trailer on My Right Side, and Two Lanes to the Right of Mine

Seeing Vehicles Two Lanes to My Right When your vehicle is even with the front of my trailer (even with the trailer headwall and just behind my tractor’s drive wheels) and two lanes to the right of … Read the full tip

Caution Zone: Even with My Tractor on My Left Side, and Two Lanes to the Left of Mine

Seeing Vehicles Two Lanes to My Left When your vehicle is even my tractor (ahead of my tractor’s drive wheels and even with the left cab door) and two lanes to the left of my lane, your vehicle’s … Read the full tip

Caution Zone: Even with My Tractor on My Right Side, and Two Lanes to the Right of Mine

Seeing Vehicles Two Lanes to My Right When your vehicle is even my tractor (ahead of my tractor’s drive wheels and even with the right cab door) and two lanes to the right of my lane, your vehicle … Read the full tip

Caution Zone: Even with the Front of My Tractor on My Left Side, and Two Lanes to the Left of Mine

Seeing Vehicles Two Lanes to My Left When your vehicle is even with the front of my tractor (forward of my tractor’s left cab door and even with its left steer wheel and fender) and two lanes to th … Read the full tip

Caution Zone: Even with the Front of My Tractor on My Right Side, and Two Lanes to the Right of Mine

Seeing Vehicles Two Lanes to My Right When your vehicle is even with the front of my tractor (forward of my tractor’s right cab door and even with its right steer wheel and fender) and two lanes to … Read the full tip

Caution Zone: Close in Front of My Truck on My Left Side, and Two Lanes to the Left of Mine

Seeing Vehicles Two Lanes to My Left When your vehicle is close in front of my tractor (in front of the tractor’s bumper by a small number of compact-size car lengths) and two lanes to the left of … Read the full tip

Caution Zone: Close in Front of My Truck on My Right Side, and Two Lanes to the Right of Mine

Seeing Vehicles Two Lanes to My Right When your vehicle is close in front of my tractor (in front of the tractor’s bumper by a small number of compact-size car lengths) and two lanes to the right o … Read the full tip

Personal Habits Introduction

Sound personal habits form the foundation of safe driving.  The traits presented in this chapter are so basic they may seem superfluous.  But you will be well served by cultivating them and adhering … Read the full tip

Awareness

While drivers rarely seem to overlook my truck when it is directly in front of them or close ahead in an adjoining lane, many seem oblivious to it as soon as they are in front or even alongside it. Of … Read the full tip

Patience

I know that patience is a tough sell in our intense society.  Our rush hour traffic is filled with drivers intent on reaching destinations and getting things done as quickly as possible.  Many of th … Read the full tip

Don’t Expect Perfection

In spite of years of experience as a truck driver, there are still occasional things I could do better.  The following information is intended to help you understand some circumstances in which these … Read the full tip

Trust

As a truck driver, I am very much a defensive driver. I have to be, since I am a professional handling a very heavy machine that obviously cannot accelerate, stop or turn nearly as quickly as you in y … Read the full tip

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