Car drivers do behave badly around trucks, that is undeniable, but at the same time there are things truckers do which cause issues with other road users too. To avoid incidents, it is best to be forewarned and take action well before circumstances accumulate to create a scare or a real-life drama.
The top 3 things truckers do which upset other road users are:
We’re not talking about BBQ, beers and football, but driving your rig from the back seat of the car in front. The average family car weighs around 5,000 pounds – a fully-laden tractor semi-trailer is 80,000 – the physics are simple, BIG object, small object and no prizes for guessing who comes last in a collision.
Tailgating is intimidating, no matter who is doing it, and trucks have longer stopping distances than cars which are prone to brake without thinking about the size of your load and how much braking force is needed to stop 80,000 pounds at 60mph.
Underinflation of truck tires leads to pieces of rubber breaking off and creating an “exploding” tire. This happens for regular car tires too, but with a truck given the size, weight and forces involved big rig gators are a real issue. Whilst car drivers can usually maneuver around the debris, you can help ensure your rig is not shedding rubber and risking something more serious by checking your tire pressure regularly.
Driving by or behind a truck in the rain is the same as sitting inside your car in the carwash. Wiper blades work overtime to little effect and visibility is seriously impaired. As a trucker you can invest in an anti-spray device, but how effective these devices are in practice is up for debate. A European study found that a modern rig hauling a semi-trailer with an anti-spray system is not generating less than a regular rig and trailer.
This is a car drivers problem to get out of the spray, and is also why many cars will overtake you only to pull in front of you as soon as they are past. Some states, such as California, are bringing in “skirts” which are supposed to improve fuel performance, but they also are designed to reduce spray. One skirt manufacturer is Transtex Composites, which claims that the reduction of drag on the trailer improves fuel economy but at the same time, the skirts act as a physical barrier to prevent the spray from radiating out from the tires. The skirts are designed for use on used semi trailers as well as for use in new trailer assembly and manufacture. Barry Andersen, a trucker turned inventor, designed one solution – EcoFlaps. Andersen’s flap design uses a mesh to absorb the mist/spray produced by the wheel; finally, the water forms large droplets which fall back onto the road instead of creating the aerosol spray which hampers visibility.