Safety is always a shared responsibility for all drivers, riders, and pedestrians who share our streets and roads. But driving around large trucks and buses requires special consideration.
A Commercial Truck or Bus is Nothing Like a “Big Car”
Large trucks and buses have operating limitations that make it essential for commercial drivers – and passenger vehicle drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists – to put extra focus on safety.
Many road users don’t realize the significance of mass and size when it comes to traffic safety. A tailgating crash between two passenger vehicles may result in a fender bender. However, a similar crash between a passenger vehicle and a large truck or bus may have greater consequences.
The significant size difference isn’t the only safety concern, however. Large blind spots, long stopping distance, and limited maneuverability affect how commercial drivers operate – and how other drivers and road users should proceed to help keep everyone safe.
A Massive Size Difference
- Trucks typically weigh 20 to 30 times more than passenger vehicles. In the event of a crash with a smaller vehicle, the huge mass of a truck or bus increases the likelihood of more severe damage and injuries.
- Size and weight make it more challenging to drive a large commercial vehicle, with impacts on acceleration, braking, and handling (maneuverability). For example, trucks and buses accelerate more slowly than passenger vehicles, especially going uphill. They may also gain speed more quickly going downhill. Other drivers need to recognize and respect these limitations.
Height – and Heightened Safety Considerations
- A commercial vehicle’s height and ground clearance pose special safety challenges.
- A taller vehicle has a higher center of gravity, which causes commercial vehicles to roll over more easily than smaller vehicles. This makes it necessary for large vehicles to slow down significantly more for curves and ramps.
- Large vehicles generate significant wind gusts that can push smaller vehicles around on the road. It’s vital that passenger drivers stay alert and focused, and remember to not linger beside a large vehicle – either speed up and pass safely, or pull behind the CMV to get out of its blind spots ("no zones").
- The ground clearance difference between commercial and passenger vehicles means a smaller vehicles can be pushed or pulled under a commercial vehicle during a crash.