Riding on the road means sharing it with other users. Travel any paved surfaces and you’ll soon encounter a transport truck. It’s easy to get frustrated and impatient when they block your visibility, slow your progress, and buffet you all over the road.
But they’re a fact of riding life, so it’s best to stay patient and learn to respect their size and idiosyncrasies.
Geoff Wood, Senior Vice President, Policy, Ontario Trucking Association, offers the following advice for increasing your safety and reducing your risk around trucks.
12 Tips for Sharing the Road with Transport Trucks
- Stay well behind transport trucks, in a position where you can see around the trailer. The Ontario Highway Traffic Act specifies that when speeds are more than 60 km/hour, following distance should be a minimum of sixty metres.
- Stay visible to the driver. If you can’t see the driver in their mirrors, the driver can’t see you.
- Avoid following a truck for long periods of time. Debris thrown off by trailer wheels can injure riders.
- Expect wind turbulence. It’s greatest right behind the truck when you’re close enough that you can’t see around the trailer, and from the door of the truck to approximately halfway down the trailer.
- Maintain a safe distance in front of the truck, so you can see the entire truck and space to either side of it in your mirrors. Motorcycles can stop quickly. A typical loaded transport truck (weighing 80,000 lb), travelling at 100 kph in clear conditions is required to stop in 525 feet (160 metres) although some can stop more quickly.
- Make sure you can see the entire front of the truck and space to either side in your mirrors before pulling in front of a truck.
- Stay to the left of the lane when approaching and passing a truck on the left, and pass at a consistent, smooth, and safe speed. This allows the truck driver better visibility and assessment of your location.
- Stay away from the transport truck driver’s blind spots. As a rule of thumb and depending on the truck, these are twenty feet directly in front, thirty feet directly behind the trailer, one lane on the driver’s side from the mirror to midway back on the trailer, extending at an approximately thirty-degree angle, and the two lanes on the passenger side from the mirror to the front of the trailer, extending at a forty-five-degree angle. See the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) educational material here.
- Avoid rapid movement around a truck that brings you in and out of the truck driver’s line of sight.
- Avoid riding between lanes when approaching a truck.
- Pass on the left side of the vehicle whenever possible.
- Remain behind a truck that’s turning, in the proper lane position and allow the truck to complete the turn. Drivers tend to take a wider right turn path and you don’t want to get caught between the truck and the curb.
Motorcycles are quick and nimble, but respect the size, power, and considerations of a transport truck driver. Motorcycles are smaller than cars, thus they’re less visible. This also means it’s more difficult to assess the speed a motorcycle is travelling at.