Sharing the road with large commercial vehicles like buses and semi-trucks can be very intimidating. Understanding how these roadway behemoths operate and handle can help you as a passenger vehicle operator stay safe.
Many accidents between passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles happen during a merge. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, you should always pass commercial vehicles on the left side and make sure to give them as much space as possible while passing.
Why does it matter what side I pass on?
In general, it is a good idea to pass on the left side no matter who you are passing. However, it becomes much more important when you are passing a commercial vehicle like a semi-truck. The reason for this is the blind spots on commercial vehicles are far bigger than those on passenger vehicles.
The blind spot on the right side of a commercial vehicle takes up two whole lanes of traffic. The blind spot on the left side of a commercial vehicle only encompasses one lane. It is safer to pass on the left.
How much room should I give a semi-truck?
In highly congested areas you may not be able to give the optimal amount of space to a semi-truck. However, it is always best to leave yourself ample room for an evasive maneuver and to maintain a safe distance between other vehicles.
Keep in mind that since commercial vehicles are much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, they have greater mass. This means they require more room to stop a maneuver. The more room that you can give a commercial vehicle the safer you will be.