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Refuel: Move Over

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Whether you’re driving a big rig, motorcycle, pickup truck, SUV, or a regular passenger car, you’re going to be sharing the road with lots of other vehicles. Knowing which lane to be in and when to move over or change into another lane can make a big difference in safety as well as in your ability to get to where you need to go on time.

There are many situations when moving over – or slowing down if you can’t move over – are not only courteous, but the law.

A good “rule of the road” is to change lanes or slow down whenever approaching a vehicle that is slow moving, stopped, or stranded on the shoulder. Doing this protects motorists as well as workers doing their jobs along roadways.

Did you know?

Approximately 30% of fatal crashes in work zones involve at least one large truck.

Change lanes when approaching the following vehicles, unless otherwise directed by an officer:

· A non-moving emergency vehicle with its lights flashing;

· A non-moving tow, maintenance, construction, solid waste, or recycling collection vehicle with its lights flashing;

· Any non-moving vehicle (including a passenger car) which is displaying its hazard lights.

Always yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights or audible signal by moving as far to the right as possible, stopping, and waiting for the vehicle to pass.

Understanding the “point of view” from up in that big rig can help make us all safer drivers. Knowing why a driver does something can turn an annoyance into a situation of mutual respect. Here are a few insights into what it’s like to drive a large truck:

     1.) Most trucks have their speed governed between 60 and 65 mph for highway driving. When there’s only a couple of mph difference between two trucks, it can take some time for the one which is faster to get around the other slower truck. While it may appear that trucks are “clumping” together and blocking other traffic, it may just be a matter of each driver trying to optimize both driving speed and safety.

     2.) Even slight hills or inclines can make a difference in a truck’s speed. If one truck has a lighter load or can pull better, the one which started out slower may gradually speed up on a hill. It doesn’t take much of an incline to slow down a big truck. Even if they wanted to go faster, they might not be able to. And, of course, the opposite is true going down an incline.

     3.) Momentum is a huge factor in big trucks and loads. This may be why it seems that a truck driver “cuts off” the driver of a car. One driver says: “The reason a lot of drivers decide to pull out into the left lane is because once they hit the brakes and lose that momentum, it can take them a very long time to build that speed up again. This will cause traffic to back up behind them and eat up a lot of fuel.”

     4.) Truck drivers really aren’t trying to annoy other drivers. Turn a potential annoyance into an opportunity to show kindness. If you’re behind a truck which is approaching another vehicle at a fast rate, just back off a bit, flash your lights, and let the driver know it’s safe to come over into the other lane. They will likely thank you for the gesture. And, if a truck is passing you, don’t speed up!

     5.) Truck drivers are taught to look very far down the road. Because they sit up so much higher than someone in a car, this is already easier to do. If a driver sees anything ahead they will need to avoid (an emergency vehicle on the side of the road, a broken-down car or truck on the shoulder, a lane closure, debris on the roadway, etc.), they will get into a left lane as soon as possible, even though it may seem to other drivers that there is no reason to do so. Once the hazard is passed, the truck will move back to the right lane.

     6.) On highways with three or more lanes, truckers tend to prefer the center lane. This is safer because of so much merging and lane changing by other vehicles. And, there are more options if something happens quickly. Even if it’s legal, it’s always safer to pass on the left; avoid passing – especially large trucks – on the right.

If you find yourself in one of these situations, instead of becoming frustrated, try to find a way to work with the truck driver, moving over if necessary to accommodate his less agile vehicle.

All drivers need a few reminders from time to time about how to be the safest when on the road. But even the safest drivers can have accidents sometimes. If you or your company is being sued following an accident, Murphy Legal is ready to defend you.

If you need assistance in an emergency, call our 24-Hour Emergency Hotline at 979-209-2173. We’re here to help. To learn more about our passion for the trucking industry, call us at 979-690-0880 or visit the Murphy Legal website.