The role that truckers play in the national economy is one that can't be filled by other means. Even if companies move toward a logistics model that uses trains, ships, and planes, truckers would still be responsible for the "last mile" service to get goods directly to the merchants who will sell them or people who have commissioned them to provide a delivery.
Since semitrucks need to be on the public roadways to provide this service, other drivers and truckers need to remember some basic facts about semitrucks since these can have a direct impact on everyone on the road.
Comparison to passenger vehicles
A fully loaded semitruck can easily weigh 20 to 30 times that of a passenger vehicle. These large rigs can top 10,000 to 80,000 pounds. The large size, which can be over 65 feet long, and heavy weight of these trucks, even if they aren't fully loaded, can make them akin to a deadly weapon. This is one of the primary reasons why truckers must drive in a way to ensure the safety of those around them.
Stopping and going
Even though semitrucks have powerful engines, they can't take off as fast as passenger vehicles. These large trucks take time to get up to speed. Factors such as going uphill might make the process of coming to cruising speed take even longer.
Stopping is also much different for semitrucks. Truckers can't stop on a dime. When a big rig is fully loaded and moving at 55 miles per hour, it can take anywhere from 190 to 450 feet to stop. This longer distance takes hot brakes from repeated stopping into account. This is a huge difference from the 130 to 140 feet that it takes a regular car to stop.
Turns and blind spots
Semitrucks can't turn like a passenger vehicle can. Truckers often have to initially veer left if they are going to make a right hand turn. For this reason, drivers shouldn't try to squeeze in on the right hand side of a semitruck if there is a chance the trucker is turning.
The blind spots that a trucker has are also much larger than those in a regular car. Vehicles can cause 18-wheeler crashes if they try to dart through the 20-foot blind spot in front of the truck. Everyone should respect that blind spot, as well as the 20-foot space in the back and 200-feet on the sides of the vehicles.