Saturday, February 09, 2008

Continuing Education

As a free service, I’d like to tell you a tiny bit about 18-wheelers, how (or how not) to drive around them.

1) Don’t cut in front. They can’t stop like a 4-wheel vehicle can. And if you do it going up a hill, that messes them up: the driver needs to conserve all the momentum he can when dragging a heavy trailer up a grade; forcing him to brake is inconsiderate and might piss him off.

2) Let them change lanes. I see this all the time: the big rig driver’s signaling to change lanes, and some little car darts forward into the empty spot next to them, oblivious to what’s happening, and how difficult it is for a big truck to find a clear spot to change lanes. When being passed by a big rig at night, you can let a driver know that the trailer has cleared (they’re far enough forward to enter your lane) by dimming your lights briefly.

3) Give them room on turns.
If the driver swings wide (into the left lane when turning right, or into the right lane to turn left), don’t try to squeeze in along next to her or you’ll get crushed by the trailer.

4) Stay visible; some trucks have signs that say “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you...”

5) In stop-and-go traffic, maintain a steady pace if you’re in front of an 18-wheeler. Don't make the driver stop and start and stop and start -- braking and accelerating are a much bigger deal to him than to you.

6) Be predictable. When you do odd stuff other people aren’t expecting, it can lead to bad things.

7) Don’t tailgate. The tires will throw big rocks no matter how many mudflaps (with tasteful naked woman silhouette) the truck has. Also, sometimes rather than being discarded, a tire will be re-treaded, or “re-capped” (have you seen those big pieces of flat rubber in the middle of the road sometimes, about 10 feet long and a foot wide? Those are tire caps) Anyway, when a tire loses the cap you don’t want to be so close that it comes thru your windshield – I’m told they weigh 150 lbs and can take your head off if they hit your car at the right speed.

8) Bonus tip: if you are a woman with shapely legs and you’re riding in the passenger seat wearing a skirt, put your feet up on the dashboard so your legs can be admired by the driver. This is good etiquette and part of being a “team player.”

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. If you know more than I do, feel free to chime in.


At Sat Feb 09, 07:04:00 PM PST, Blogger Lisa said...

I'd like to speak in my defense here...

Traveling down I-5, it drives me NUTS when a truck who wants to go one mile an hour faster than the guy in front of him (who's going 63) pulls into the fast lane. So now both driving lanes are blocked by trucks going 63 and 64, respectively. The 9-minute passing maneuver.

If I can speed up to prevent this meathead from getting over, I sure will.

Sorry, I guess I take no credit from this continuing education endeavor.

Next subject?

At Sun Feb 10, 04:20:00 PM PST, Blogger unca said...

Hmmm! re:
"5) In stop-and-go traffic, maintain a steady pace if you’re in front of an 18-wheeler. Don't make the driver stop and start and stop and start -- braking and accelerating are a much bigger deal to him than to you."

I thought that "stop-and-go" driving by definition was where a "steady pace" was not possible. ???
Anyway, I think most semi-drivers (and most drivers for that matter) are pretty considerate but dangerous drivers of all kinds exist and the problem is made worse due to the fact that semi's are unable to maintain a constant speed over even slightly hilly terrain. To "make time" the truck driver often moves faster than the flow of traffic when descending and slower when ascending. As a result, you and your car while moving at a constant speed play "tag" with the same truck over and over. It's unnerving to say the least and it makes one question the advisability of having two such different types of vehicles sharing the same roadway.

At Sun Feb 10, 05:09:00 PM PST, Blogger si said...

your bonus tip -- i was waiting for that one, or something like it -- hiking one's skirt, even while driving is always appreciated, i'm sure.

At Sun Feb 10, 09:36:00 PM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

unca, you're right about stop-and-go, except that i've watched people sit still for long periods reading the paper or whatever, then surge ahead and stop again.
as well, some people push, push, push, rather than taking a slightly slower but more constant speed...

At Sun Feb 10, 11:44:00 PM PST, Blogger Erik said...

if i could just second the bonus tip, i will feel like i've done my job here.

At Mon Feb 11, 06:31:00 AM PST, Blogger unca said...

I feel safesty when I drive about one or two miles below the speed limit, keeping it there.

At Mon Feb 11, 12:48:00 PM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

sounds good, unca, as long as you don't do it in the fast lane... ;-)

At Tue Feb 12, 08:56:00 AM PST, Blogger unca said...

I can't do anything in the fast lane.


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