Sharing the Road
Teaching Your Teen to Drive
When driving on the highway, you are at a serious disadvantage if involved in a crash with a larger vehicle. In crashes involving large trucks, the occupants of a car – usually the driver – sustain 78 percent of fatalities.
In order to keep you and your teen safe on the road, you should be extra cautious when driving around large trucks and buses. Sharing the road with larger vehicles can be dangerous, if you are not aware of their limitations. Here are a few tips to help you drive safer to prevent a crash and minimize injuries and fatalities if one does occur.
Cutting in front can cut your life short
If you cut in front of another vehicle, you may create an emergency-braking situation for the vehicles around you, especially in heavy traffic. Trucks and buses take much longer to stop in comparison to cars. When passing, look for the front of the truck in your rearview mirror before pulling in front, and avoid braking situations.
Watch your blind spots – the “no-zones”
Large trucks have blind spots, or “no-zones”, around the front, back, and sides of the vehicle. These no-zones make it difficult for the driver to see. Avoid being caught in a truck’s no-zones. If you can’t see the truck driver in the truck’s mirror, the truck driver can’t see you.
Avoid squeeze play
Be careful of trucks making wide right turns. If you try to get in between the truck and the curb, you’ll be caught in a “squeeze” crash. Truck drivers sometimes need to swing wide to the left in order to safely negotiate a right turn. They can’t see cars directly behind or beside them. Cutting in between the truck and the curb increases the possibility of a crash. So pay attention to truck signals, and give them lots of room to maneuver.
Work zones can be very dangerous, especially when traveling on the highway. It’s important to be alert and prepared to slow down or stop in a work zone. Slowing down and allowing others to merge will ensure a safe passage through work zones. Here are a few tips on work zone safety:
- Stay alert: Work zones are busy places where construction vehicles and workers are always moving. Be alert, and stay on the safe path that is designated throughout the work zone.
- Take your cues from trucks: Work zones often pop up suddenly. If you are not paying attention to the signs, you could find yourself in a serious crash. Since trucks have a height advantage and can see ahead of traffic, their brake light activity can provide a good signal of a slow-down or work zone ahead. Truck drivers know the stopping limitations of their trucks and pay close attention to traffic.
- Merge gently: Aggressive drivers can be extremely dangerous while driving in work zones. Work zones require time and courtesy. For a smooth passage through work zones, allow others to merge in front of you. Be especially considerate of trucks. They require more space to merge and are the least maneuverable vehicles on the road.
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Trucks and other large or slow vehicles
Watch your blind spots – the “No- Zones.” Large trucks have blind spots, or No-Zones, around the front, back, and sides of the vehicle. These No-Zones make it difficult for the driver to see you. Give them room and expect their speed to be less than the posted speed limit, especially on steep hills.
Always be cautious around school buses. Vehicles behind a bus that is loading or unloading students must always stop. Opposing traffic must also stop if traveling on an undivided highway.
Cyclists are considered vehicles and should be given the appropriate right of way, as with other vehicles. Reduce your speed when encountering and don’t tailgate, especially in bad weather. Leave plenty of room, at least 4 feet and pass with care. Always look for cyclists when you open your door. Children on bikes can be unpredictable, slow down and use extra caution. Don’t expect children to know traffic laws. Because of their size they can be harder to see.
Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections – it’s the law. Crosswalks exist at all intersections, even when unmarked. Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections – it’s the law. Crosswalks exist at all intersections, even when unmarked. Always look for pedestrians especially before turning at a light. Stay alert and slow down, particularly in residential areas, school zones and commercial areas. Children, particularly, have not yet developed the cognitive skills to calculate speed and distance.
Always treat motorcycle operators with courtesy. Leave plenty of extra space between your vehicle and a motorcycle. Motorcycles can usually stop in shorter distances and may suddenly swerve to avoid obstacles. Before changing lanes, check to see if a motorcycle is in your blind spot or in the space where you plan to move. After you pass, look again before you move back into the other lane.
At intersections, motorcycles’ smaller size makes it difficult to judge their distance and speed, an oncoming motorcycle is probably much closer and coming much faster than it appears.