Truck Width

Last Edited: July 23, 2017 // by TruckerScape, Inc.

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 lanes is considerably smaller than the slack you have in your personal vehicle.  This is another way in which the safety factor for my truck is reduced and another reason for extra care around it.

On multiple-lane highways I drive predominantly in the right lane and crowd the right shoulder line.  This creates a little extra safety margin between my truck and traffic passing in the lane on my left.  On two-lane highways crowding to the right increases the safety margin for both oncoming traffic and traffic passing me.  Also it helps drivers behind me see road and traffic conditions ahead of us more easily in deciding whether it’s safe to pass.

Of course, not all highway and surface streets are wide enough for even a foot or two of spare space.  In many places such as older downtown areas and most residential areas, my truck does not fit at all and does not belong.  Especially in the Northeast, streets tend to be narrower.  My truck’s width can be a factor for you even when you are parked.  For example, when parallel parked on a narrow street frequented by trucks, you may want to fold your side mirror on the street (driver’s) side to reduce the possibility of damage to it.  This is a common practice in New York City boroughs such as Brooklyn and Queens, especially when snow piles up and prevents motorists from parking flush with curbs.

Truck length and width present maneuvering challenges at dock sites with parking lots for both trucks and personal vehicles, such as at shopping centers.  Personal vehicle drivers sometimes park too close to parked trucks.  Then truck drivers have problems pulling out to back to docks or depart the sites.  Personal vehicles can also interfere with backing when parked too close to docking aisles or lanes.  You can help by giving parked trucks room and parking away from dock operations areas.

Winding, two-lane highways such as those on “scenic” routes are more difficult to navigate because of truck length and width, and some are off-limits to trucks.  On such highways I steer close to the edge of the road on curves to my left.  This minimizes off-tracking of my trailer tail into the opposing lane.  On curves to my right I steer close to the center line so my off-tracking trailer tandems stay on the road.  On very sharp “hair pin” curves I may have to take some of the opposing lane, either with my trailer tail or front of my truck.  If you are approaching in the opposing lane, you can help by slowing down to give me room on those curves.

Some bridges on back highways are so narrow that my driver’s side mirror clears that of a truck in the opposing lane by mere inches.  A few bridges are so narrow that trucks are banned from them.  Lane encroachment by road construction barriers is another factor for trucks, as are today’s longer construction project durations.

Some drivers in personal vehicles towing trailers lack experience to continually watch and control where their trailers are tracking.  Some of their trailers are wider than mine and drivers will let them run partially in my lane as they pass by me, an obvious safety hazard (see the Passing Me While Towing a Trailer or Driving a Large Motor Coach tip in the Passing Me chapter).

Takeaways

Allow for width as well as length when driving around trucks and also when parking where they will be travelling, maneuvering or parking.

When parallel parked on a narrow street frequented by trucks, fold your side mirror on the street (driver’s) side.

On narrow winding highways, slow down to give oncoming trucks room on sharp curves.

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