CAA Manitoba Winter 2018 - Page 25

drive Because size Matters How to safely drive alongside big trucks and other commercial vehicles By Mark richarDson this winter? Always remember: the larger the vehicle, the greater the challenge of driving near it. Commercial vehicles mean more slush spraying on your windshield, more snow blowing in the air and less visibility for everyone. But with the right attitude and some healthy respect for big trucks and buses, you can stay safe on the road this season, says Kevin Hope, training lead of automotive services at CAA Manitoba. “When you’re behind a large commercial vehicle, give yourself at least a four-second following distance,” Hope says. You can estimate the correct distance by noting when the vehicle in front passes a certain point, like a lamp standard or road sign, and counting down the seconds until you reach that same point. The old counting trick of one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, Driving the highway four Mississippi should ensure a reasonable distance. “The bigger the vehicle, the larger its blind spots. Buses, semi-trailers, big trucks—they’re going to have a lot more blind spots than a regular vehicle. Give them lots of room,” Hope adds. “When you’re passing, you want to get past them as quickly as possible. But if you can’t see the driver’s face in your outside mirror when you’re passing, he can’t see you either.” When approaching a large vehicle that’s driving toward you, keep a firm grip on the steering wheel. “At high- way speed, they create air turbulence and they can throw up blowing snow,” he says. Be mindful at intersections too: “A bus or larger vehicle often goes right a little bit to turn left—or left a little to turn right,” Hope says. “Your best bet: Don’t get in between them at turns, especially right turns. Drivers sometimes see space on that right side, but do not make the mistake of trying to get in there!” If you’re on a multi-lane highway, it’s always safest to pass another vehicle on its left because the right side has larger blind spots for a driver. Driving instructors call the left side of any vehicle its “view side,” while the right side is known as the “blind side.” When you’re driving on multi-lane highways and a large vehicle is merging ahead, you should move over a lane to allow it to drive smoothly into your vacated space. If the lane alongside isn’t open, slow down or speed up to make sure there’s enough room for that merging truck or bus. Always remember that larger vehicles take longer to accelerate and brake. As Hope notes, a large truck may not always have the right of way, but you should always respect its “right of weight.” cAA MANITOBA wINTer 2018 25