How to Behave on the Highway Around Tractor-Trailers

Tractor-trailers are the most enormous vehicles you will probably see on the highway. They can share the same roadways with you, so you need to respect them. You have to realize the size difference between a tractor-trailer and your old family car.

Since these vehicles are your temporary neighbors when you’re out there, you should know how to conduct yourself around them. Let’s go over that a little bit right now.

The Size Difference

Most drivers intuitively understand that a tractor-trailer is much bigger than them. They might not realize the actual size difference, though.

The average car is about 3,778 pounds, while the average tractor-trailer weighs in at about 80,000 pounds. Stop and really think about that for a second. That’s like a human standing next to an elephant.

You will probably feel that way when you’re in the family car or truck, and you’re flying down the highway next to a tractor-trailer. You may feel them looming over you, and that may make you feel nervous. There’s no reason to panic, yet you should also always acknowledge and respect that presence.

Leave the Larger Vehicle Behind

You should never speed while on the highway, but you should also try to stay away from tractor-trailers when you can. In light of this, you should know to step on the gas and outdistance one of these vehicles if it’s possible for you to do so.

A tractor-trailer will probably use the slow lane. This means you should be able to get in the fast lane and drive past one if it’s right next to you.

If a tractor-trailer is in the fast lane, you might use the slow lane to outdistance them. All this depends on what the traffic patterns are like around you.

Let Them Go Ahead

The other option is to let them go faster than you until they outdistance you. This isn’t as probable since these vehicles tend to lumber along. The driver is not likely to step on the gas to change speed to accommodate the smaller vehicles around them.

If you’re not in any great hurry, though, there is no harm in letting a tractor-trailer go past and bringing up the rear some distance behind them. The point is that one way or another, you need to stay away from these larger vehicles because they’re so much bigger than you.

Stay Either Far Ahead or Behind

Let’s say you’re in the lane with one of these tractor-trailers, and you don’t have the option of getting in another lane right then. The traffic around you will let you know when you can change lanes safely.

As long as you’re both in the same lane, you should either stay well ahead of that vehicle or behind it. The driver’s blind spots are the reasons why you should behave that way.

Tractor-trailer drivers will have several large blind spots. The most prominent ones are right in front of the vehicle and right behind it. Because of this, you’ll want to be well out in front of a tractor-trailer so you can be sure the driver has a clear view of your vehicle or well enough behind it so the same thing is true.

Whenever you start to creep up close to a tractor-trailer’s back end or when it pulls up behind you so that it’s almost touching your rear bumper, know that the driver cannot see you. In those situations, one way or another, you need to create some distance so you can feel safe.

Road Rage Incidents

Road rage incidents are also worth talking about when we’re speaking about tractor-trailers. We’ve already covered how much larger these vehicles are than yourself, but that does not stop some people from picking a fight with the drivers. Some individuals have real anger issues, and road rage is the way that can manifest itself when you are heading to and from your job, or you’re in the middle of a long road trip.

What triggers road rage? Often, it’s not so much the incident itself, which might be a car cutting off a driver in traffic or someone failing to signal before changing lanes. The incident might stem from a fight the driver had with their significant other before they left for work or something along those lines.

If you decide to get in a road rage incident when there’s a tractor-trailer right behind you, though, or alongside you, you might regret that pretty quickly. If you anger the driver enough because you gesture at them or yell something, they might nudge you and push your much tinier car into the nearest ditch.

You need to stop a road rage incident before it starts by taking deep breaths or repeating a calming phrase to yourself. If you can do that, you should be able to control yourself, and you’ll be in a much better position to shrug off some incident that would usually bother you.

If you do all of these things, then you should be able to coexist along with your area tractor-trailers. These vehicles need to be out there because they often transport vital resources around the country, so you should think of them as essential. If you can’t get along with these bigger neighbors, know that will often prove problematic.

The more time you spend on the road with larger vehicles, the more you should feel used to them, and the less they will frighten or intimidate you. Still, you should never get so comfortable that you forget about the potential danger. It always exists and ignoring it is like a zookeeper turning their back on the lion cage.

If you’re set on avoiding tractor-trailers, you can always stick to local roads, where you should hardly ever encounter them. These local streets will take you longer to get to where you need to go, but you will mostly see vehicles your size, and maybe that’s the best situation for you.


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