We have all seen the signs- the No Zone signs, that is. What does it really mean? Lets take some time and talk about it and what it really means.
Trucks may not see you
You see them driving down the road every day. They are tall, long and heavy. Yes, we are talking about 18 wheelers. Most people think that because they are so big, they can see everything. That is just not true, they see less than the average car.
Just because they sit higher, does not mean they can see more. Yes they can see down the road further than a car can, but what they can not see is behind them and to the side of them. Which means a car could be driving right beside them and they may not see the car. Why would that be a problem? Well because if the truck needs to make a lane change and you are riding in their blind spot they may not see you.
So where is the No Zone?
For most large trucks there are 4 areas you need to stay out of for a long period of time. As the image above shows, that is to the right and left of the truck and directly in front of or behind the truck. We will look at all the areas and why they are No Zones.
Behind the truck
A truck’s blind spot is about 200 feet behind the truck. That means the driver can not see 200 feet behind him! So if you are traveling that close to a truck, he can not see you and you can not see in front of him, so if he needs to make a sudden stop- guess where you will end up? Yea, in the back of his trailer. A rule of thumb is if you can not see his mirrors he can not see you.
Left side of the Truck
This may be the smallest No Zone of all the zones, but don’t let that fool you. It is the safest area to pass a truck, because the driver sits on the left side he tends to see more on that side. If you need to pass a truck, only pass on the left and don’t linger. Make your pass as fast as you can. Even though the blind spot on that side of the truck is smaller it is still there. If you should get into his blind spot and he needs to move into that lane, it could cause an accident.
Right side of the Truck
This is the largest No Zone for a truck. A driver will see less on his right side because of the size of the truck and his mirrors can not cover this side of the truck as well as the left. You should NOT pass a truck on the right! He will not see you and if he needs to make a right hand turn and you are on his right, guess what will happen. Even if you are on a large interstate try to avoid passing on his right, it is just too dangerous.
Front No Zone
Most people don’t think to much about this No Zone. When you move in front of a truck you need to leave at least 1 car length for every 10 mph you are traveling. That means if you are on a interstate traveling at 70 mph you need to leave 7 car lengths before you move into his lane. Why is that? It will take a fully loaded truck over 200 yards to stop, that is 2 football fields. If you cut him off and have to slow down for any reason, he may not have time to stop.
We have talked about the No Zones, now let’s talk about some of the other hazards. If you decide that you need to tailgate a truck, watch out for the alligators. We have all seen them traveling down the road and the tire treads left in the road. Ever think about where they come from? What happens is a truck tire is filled with 100 psi of air, and if the tire gets hot enough or develops a weak point that tire will explode. When it explodes, it tends to break apart, and what comes apart first is the tread. Guess where that tread is going? Yea, right behind the truck, so if you are tailgating a truck, you will get to meet that tread head on.
That tread does not have to come from the truck you are following. If the driver hits a tread on the road with his trailer, it will pick it up and throw it behind him. That goes for any road hazard, not just tire treads.
So how do you protect yourself?
That is the easy part. It is just common sense. When traveling down the road with trucks, don’t hang out in the No Zones! Yea, it is that simple.