Sharing the Road with Large Trucks

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Tips for Sharing the Road with Commercial Motor Vehicles

Did you know? Over 75% of crashes and near-crashes involving heavy vehicles are primarily caused by car drivers. Three-quarters! Clearly, we have a problem here that needs to be addressed.

Although this website is aimed at young drivers obtaining their driver’s license for the first time, ALL drivers, young and old, could benefit from reviewing the material and scenarios to ensure they are sharing the road with large trucks properly in their everyday driving.

The majority of the video clips shown on this website are taken from a naturalistic driving study conducted by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI). Basically this means that we recruited truck drivers to participate in the study, then installed cameras and sensors on their trucks to record their day-to-day driving activities. The video clips on this website are of real-world driving events that occurred during the course of the study.

A few of the video clips were produced on the Virginia Smart Road test track located at VTTI and there are screenshots taken from VTTI’s Commercial Training and Prototyping Simulator. This allowed researchers to provide examples that couldn’t be supplied by the naturalistic driving study. The use of the simulator also allowed the creation of overhead, bird’s-eye view images to give you the entire perspective of a driving conflict unfolding.

For each key scenario, we provide an example of improper road sharing behavior, along with an explanation of what occurred and what the car driver did wrong. Also, where possible, we included examples of proper road sharing behavior, along with some useful tips or “rules of thumb” to help you drive safely when sharing the road with large trucks.

The five key strategies addressed on this website are:

  • Don’t Hang Out in the No-Zone
  • Don’t Cut Trucks Off
  • Maintain a Safe Following Distance
  • Properly Passing a Truck
  • Don’t Get Squeezed

VTTI also has a sharing the road with large trucks video series that not only discusses the five key strategies for staying safe around large trucks but also explains key facts about large trucks (e.g., weight, braking, visibility) as well as provides additional videos and examples.

Further, you can view photographs of the outcome of collisions between cars and trucks. These photos are of actual crashes between cars and trucks. They’re included to reinforce why proper road sharing behavior is so important. You may get a second chance if you make a poor driving decision and collide with another car, but colliding with a truck will be a completely different story. As these photos show, the outcome of a collision with a truck is much more likely to be catastrophic due to the sheer weight and size differences between cars and trucks.

We hope that viewing these road-sharing scenarios from the perspective of a truck driver gives you a better understanding of the difficulties faced by truck drivers on the road every day. By practicing proper and safe road sharing behavior, you can make truck drivers’ jobs easier and safer and reduce the likelihood of finding yourself in a dangerous and potentially life-threatening conflict involving a large truck.

In addition to our website and video series, VTTI has a team of large truck researchers that visit driver’s education programs and other community events to conduct Sharing the Road with Large Trucks hands-on demonstrations. The team conducts an in-class learning experience followed by the hands-on demonstration around a large truck. All participants have the opportunity to sit in the driver’s seat of a tractor-trailer and see first hand for themselves what a truck driver can and cannot see out the roadway. Studies have shown that kinesthetic learning is a great benefit for retaining knowledge.

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