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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Beware the No-Zones

Randy Youngman
Randy Youngman, Alberta Office of Traffic Safety

Alberta's highway system is among the best in the world and accommodates an ever growing amount of commercial truck traffic that we must share the road with. In a fatal crash involving a large commercial truck and a passenger vehicle, the occupants of the passenger vehicle are far more likely to be killed. Driving mistakes around trucks can have dire and tragic consequences.

One of the easiest things we can do to stay safe when driving around big trucks is avoid the "No-Zones." These "No-Zones" are blind spots that the driver of the big rig cannot see into and are typically along both sides of the truck - directly in front, behind and down the right side of the cab. Because of the vehicle’s immense size, the blind spots are also large.

There are a few rules that drivers of passenger vehicles should always abide by when in the vicinity of large trucks:
  • Stay out of their blind spots! Stay far enough behind big trucks so that you can see both side mirrors on the truck. (If you can’t see the truck driver, he can’t see you either!) 
  • Don't change lanes abruptly. Never cut in front of these vehicles. (The stopping distance of a loaded large truck is generally a lot longer than you would imagine.) 
  • Allow yourself extra time to pass a big rig. These trucks may have more than one trailer in tow and you must plan for the extra space needed to complete your pass in safety. 
  • Signal well in advance of a manoeuvre to give lots of notice when planning to turn or change lanes. 
  • If you are driving beside a truck – watch for turn signals because many trucks require a wide turning radius and may do so from an adjacent lane. 
  • Always wear your seat belt. 

Some good behaviors for truck, bus and other commercial drivers include:
  • Slowing down in work zones and in heavy traffic. 
  • Leaving a safe distance between vehicles. 
  • Watching for vehicles in blind spots. 
  • Driving defensively. 
  • Yielding the right of way. Vehicles already on the highway have the right of way and those merging onto the highway must yield or merge on safely. 
  • Always wear your seat belt. 
Trucks are not large cars. Whether they are accelerating, braking, climbing a hill, switching lanes or turning onto a side street, big trucks must perform certain manoeuvres that drivers of passenger vehicles are generally not familiar with, such as stopping at uncontrolled railway crossings.

For more information on driving safely around commercial vehicles visit saferoads.alberta.ab.ca or contact Randy at 403-458-1890 or your local RCMP or Police service.

Randy Youngman is a regional traffic safety consultant with the Alberta Office of Traffic Safety and can be reached at 403-458-1890 or Randy.Youngman@gov.ab.ca.

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