Sharing the Road with Semi-Trucks

Every so often Etler-Kettenacker Agency likes to do a fun and informative article on topics you may not think about every day.  Or, you often think about a certain topic and wonder “Why?” This week is one of those topics, some tips and facts on sharing the road with semi-trucks.


Have you ever been in a traffic jam on the highway and in front you there are two or three semis slowly rolling along side by side?  When this occurs the drivers are most likely not intentionally trying to frustrate you and all the other drivers.  There is reason for this maneuver.  A typical semi-truck has a minimum of ten gears, some have many more.  For those of you who drive a manual 4 or 6 speed vehicle you may start to see where this is going.  The tractor trailers do this so they can maintain a steady speed with the flow of traffic.  They do this to control the traffic and to keep from using their clutch and gears so often when smaller vehicles jump in front of them with little room to spare.  Tractor trailer drivers have stated that their foot and leg have cramped up in a traffic jam due to having to be on the clutch and switching gears so many times.  We all get irritated in traffic, sometimes it helps to know the “why” to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. 


Another interaction between tractor trailers and other vehicles that EK Agency would like to shed light on regarding sharing the road with semi-trucks is allowing sufficient room between you as the driver of the vehicle in front of a semi, particularly on a decline.  Technically, we are not responsible for what goes on BEHIND our vehicle while on the road.  For the safety of our clients and all drivers, it is imperative to be aware of all vehicles 360 degree around your vehicle all the time.  To give you an example, passenger cars and tractor trailers sharing the road when going down any type of decline.  A semi that is fully loaded has a maximum weight of 80,000 pounds a typical passenger vehicle weighs about 4,000 pounds for a difference of 76,000 in weight!  When sharing the road with semi-trucks on a decline no matter the grade, please be aware of the space you leave between your vehicle and the semi behind you.  When speaking with truck drivers this is the primary interaction that leaves them with little control.  When an 80,000 pound semi is travelling down an incline and much smaller passenger vehicle darts in front of them leaving little room, the semi driver is powerless.  If the passenger car should stop quickly the truck can’t stop.  In most states and in this type of accident, the truck driver is cited however, this won’t matter much to the passenger vehicle because the survival rate in this type of accident in very low.  Please just take a quick moment and remember this article and be mindful of the sheer size and technicality of operating a ten gear, 80,000 pound with a 53 foot trailer vehicle travelling with you.  Be assured they are being mindful of you.


For statistics on semi related vehicle accident visit our blog under the same title.