A Special Guest Post: Bill


My husband, Bill is a professional over-the-road truck driver. He drives an 18-wheeler (semi). He is on the road for weeks at a time, picking up and delivering loads all over the country. Everything that you buy and use is available to you because a trucker helped get it there.

For quite some time, I have wanted Bill to do a guest post on road safety. I am pleased that he has put together this important post. Please read this. You will see road safety and its importance from the seat of a professional, nationwide driver. 

Highway Safety: Passing and Merging

People that drive or pass on the right side show a severe lack of respect, a deficiency in intellect, or perhaps possess a death wish, especially when the vehicle that they are challenging is a fully loaded semi-truck pulling a 53’ trailer / rig. This sounds harsh, but when I see it occur about a dozen times per hour, something is seriously wrong on our highways. The average car or light-truck weighs roughly about 2,500#s. A rig weighs as low as 35,000#s if empty, and as much as 80,000#s if fully loaded. An empty rig accelerates considerably faster, but both have serious issues with stopping distance and attempting sudden lane changes. My point is that a car or light truck will lose every time it tangles with a rig. However, proper passing and merging techniques will prevent accidents, and ultimately save lives.

When is the last time you saw someone pulled over for passing on the right? It is illegal, but I have never seen a violator pulled over for it. If this law was enforced, it would dramatically reduce high speed accidents and fatalities!  Illinois had 957 vehicular fatalities last year, posting digital road signs updating the numbers. I’m sure that illegal lane usage (passing on right), improper merging, cell phones & texting caused many of these. But, if a trucker is involved in an accident, he or she will probably be blamed, because a professional driver is expected to compensate for other drivers errors, no matter what the other party did wrong.

Passing: Passing is to be done on the left. There is no other legal way to pass; no excuses! Passing on the right / blind spot drivers cause a lot of preventable accidents. The entire right side of a rig requires frequent scanning to see if someone is there. The area right next to the front tire is almost impossible to see. No mirrors will pick up this spot, but it is a common spot for cars to hide. It’s like a moth being drawn to a flame or something like that. All I know is that it is a very dangerous habit. If that rig makes a lane shift to the right, the result will probably be catastrophic. So, never pass or ride on the right side of a rig. It only takes one split second of oversight by a truck driver, and it could be the last time you drive in a blind spot. Remember, we’re human too. So, don’t assume that the truck driver knows that you are there.

Merging:  When merging onto an expressway, scan the traffic, and make a quick decision whether to pull ahead of or fall in behind the vehicle that you are merging with. DO NOT ride next to the vehicle or stop on the end of the ramp! If you are indecisive and ride next to a rig, your lane IS going to run out, and you WILL be forced under the trailer and probably be killed. If you stop on a ramp, you risk causing a pile up of unsuspecting motorists behind you. As a truck driver, I give as much room to other vehicles as possible. However, I can’t yield when I am blocked on my left, or don’t have another lane in which to bail out to. Trust me, many truck drivers are not as considerate as me and will not yield, because technically they don’t have to. They’re not the one that is merging!

It’s time that all drivers take responsibility for safety. Further, it is time for the police and court systems to uniformly enforce the existing laws (not write more), and not let violators off the hook. We all have to share the roads, be much more patient and respect the rules, which will ultimately save lives.

One more thing, put down the cell phone and drive like your life depends on it, BECAUSE IT DOES!

Be safe out there, 
Bill

31 thoughts on “A Special Guest Post: Bill

  1. Hooray for Bill being willing to do such a great post for you! When we're on the road, I'm scared beyond belief, but not of the 18 wheelers. It's those little cars being driven by pretend 'jet pilots', darting across three lanes.

    Joe is very, very courteous with the 18 wheelers. They've got every idiot on the road to deal with.

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  2. Thank you Bill!! Very good advice. I have had people pass me on the right when I am on the interstate and even have it happen right here in town. Always scares me.

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  3. Thanks, Bill!!! Great advice for staying safe and helping you stay safe on the roads!!! I take your words to heart. (except in Australia where the overtake lane is opposite!!!) . I try to be considerate when I drive but I know I goof up sometimes, too. The stopping on the ramps aggravates me no end!!! Look ahead, people, and adjust your speed to make it work–don't just stop!!!! I always think of Bill when I see a semi now!

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  4. As my son was a truck driver for years, I have heard this advice and and make it a point to be courteous to other truck drives and to keep my distance so I am not in thier way if something happens. I can't imagine how hard it is for you to deal with the oblivious people on the road. They are always in a hurry to get somewhere, like their life depended on it and usually don't get there any faster then the person who is driving safely … if they get there at all. Thank you for your words of wisdom. It is good to hear it from someone who knows and cares. You are an awesome professionsl and I respect your advice.

    Andrea

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  5. Thanks Bill for the great advise. I've seen a video of a car passing on the right and it almost ended in tragedy when someone came out of the parked car on the side of the road. He was knocked down to the ground and miraculously survived. Scarry…
    JB

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  6. Someone did this to Bill recently. They are lucky to be alive. Bill is aware and pays attention. He cares. Not all truckers do, just as not all “four wheelers” (car drivers) do. Thanks, Julia.

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  7. Dear Bill, thank you for sharing your expertise with us. I'm not sure that I really knew that when I was on a two lane divided highway, I wasn't supposed to pass cars that are on the left lane. I just thought that if they started going slower, and I was going faster–not even exceeding the speed limit–I could pass them by. So thank you for explaining this so clearly to me. Peace.

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  8. Great, great advice! Thank you, Bill. The merging thing gets me every time. People just do NOT know how it's supposed to work. So infuriating…and dangerous.

    And the cell phone thing…ugh! Remember that game back in the early 70s where you spot VW beetles and yell Slug Bug and the color (even if you don't, you get my gist)? Well, my sons have a new game where they yell 'idiot' when they spot someone driving while talking on a cell phone. LOL!

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