Seeing lots of semi trucks on California highways is a sign of a strengthening economy, but it can be very intimidating to drive around them. There are some key differences between semi trucks and passenger vehicles that you should be aware of in order to promote safe driving.
Particularly for newer drivers, passing large semi trucks effectively can be intimidating. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, ensure that you are not in a semi truck’s No Zone and always pass on the left side of a semi-truck.
Where are the No Zones?
Be aware that semi trucks have extremely large blind spots. It is dangerous for you to spend an extended amount of time in a semi truck’s blind spot because the truck may merge into you. Semi trucks have blind spots, or No Zones, on both sides of the vehicle as well as in the front and in the back.
Essentially, if you are not able to see a side-view mirror on a semi truck from your position, it is best to assume that the driver of the truck cannot see you. It is wise to adjust your speed in order to avoid staying in the No Zone for too long.
Why should I pass on the left?
Even if you are trying to pass a regular passenger vehicle, it is best practice for faster traffic to be on the left side. However, this rule moves from “best practice” to “essential” when you are maneuvering your vehicle around semi trucks.
The blind spot on a semi truck is much larger on the right then on the left. Roughly, the blind spot on the right side of a semi truck is two lanes. Meanwhile, the blind spot on the left side of the semi truck is only one lane.