Trucks & Bus Drivers: Sharing the Road with Passenger Cars

With the knowledge, experience and skill you have gained as a commercial driver comes an added responsibility—to share the road safely, to anticipate hazardous situations and to be patient with other road users who may not understand how a large vehicle operates.

While most professional drivers also drive cars and know how it feels to share the road with large vehicles, most passenger vehicle drivers have no idea what it’s like to be behind the wheel of a large truck or bus.

Surveys indicate that many motorists feel uncomfortable around larger and longer vehicles. The very size of trucks and buses can make car drivers feel vulnerable, and may cause them to make inappropriate moves.

Being safe matters more than being right.

Image of a truck driver with his hands on the steering wheel.

Drivers of smaller vehicles often don't realize that a loaded tractor-trailer needs twice as much more distance to stop as the average car and takes much longer to get up to cruising speed. They may not anticipate that a truck or bus sometimes needs to track wide when turning. They may feel intimidated and react unexpectedly when they see a truck or bus looming closer.

Remember that a serious collision, regardless of who may be at fault, is more likely to result in an injury to the people in the smaller vehicle. While crashes involving trucks and buses represent only 8.7% of total collisions, they account for 21% of fatalities.

Tips and Advice for Truck and Bus Drivers

Blind Spots
Be aware of the size and location of your vehicle’s blind spots, especially when driving an unfamiliar vehicle or new type of trailer or load. Watch the vehicles around you, notice when they enter your blind spots and remember they are there—even if you can’t see them.

Image &graphic indicating truck driver should be aware when other vehicles enter his blind spots.

Following a Small Vehicle
Tailgating is extremely dangerous when you are behind the wheel of a heavy vehicle. Always leave plenty of braking and manoeuvring room between you and the vehicle in front. You are seated higher than a car driver, so use this extra driving height to look well ahead and prepare for braking situations. 

When driving behind a smaller vehicle, keep in mind how intimidating your grille may appear in a the other vehicle’s rear-view mirror. Leave a generous buffer zone to allow the other driver to feel comfortable and safe. 

Being Passed by Another Vehicle
When being passed by a faster vehicle, ease up on the accelerator a little to ensure quick and safe passing.

Convoys can be intimidating to car drivers. When travelling in convoy, consider leaving enough space between the trucks for overtaking passenger vehicles to fit into safely.

Signal your Intentions
Signal your intentions clearly before turning, slowing or stopping so that drivers around you have enough time to react properly, especially in bad weather or in hilly areas.

Wide Turns
When tracking wide to turn a corner, always take a moment to double-check for passenger vehicles that may have moved into your turning zone.

Truck making a wide rght turn.

Don’t allow yourself to become distracted. A large vehicle can travel a long way during a momentary lapse of concentration. 

At 100 km/h, a large vehicle can travel 90 metres (nearly 300 feet) in only 3 seconds.

At 100 km/h, a large vehicle can travel 90 metres (nearly 300 feet) in only 3 seconds.

Think Ahead 
Think ahead several steps and anticipate the potential dangers. If you're planning to pass, is there an incline ahead that will slow you down? If you are turning a tight corner, have you signalled your intentions well ahead?

Construction Zones
Be particularly vigilant in construction zones where there is less room to manoeuvre, more distractions and greater risk of the unexpected. 

It's also important to slow down. The gravel surface in some construction zones reduces friction and so increases the distance needed to brake. The cloud of dust created behind a large vehicle on gravel roads reduces visibility for other road users and for workers.

Setting the Standard
Continue to drive defensively, even when other road users aren't as courteous. As a professional, you set the standard for safe driving.

Seat Belts
Always wear your seat belt. In rollover collisions in particular, many truck and bus drivers have been killed or injured after they were ejected from the vehicle. Wearing seat belts is the single most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries on our roads.

Traffic on a multi-lane highway.

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