Welcome back to the final Part in our two-Part series on space management. As you may have noticed from reading the first Part, space management is crucial to safe driving.
You are powering a very large, very heavy vehicle down the road, and you must be completely aware of its spacial dimensions. Do you want to be the truck driver that misses the clearance sign and slams the roof of their reefer trailer into a steel column or other structural support? To avoid such instances, you must have spacial awareness above and below.
Space Management – ABOVE
Adequate space above your vehicle is required for clearing bridges, trees, overpasses and wires. Most importantly, never automatically assume that the heights posted on bridges and overpasses are correct.
There may have been a recent repaving, or perhaps there is snow packed on the road. As a professional truck driver, you must be able to quickly and decisively take these factors into account as you operate your vehicle.
The weight of your cargo may also contribute to the vehicle’s overall height. An empty vehicle will ride a little higher than a fully loaded one.
Also take into account how the road has been graded. A high vehicle will tilt more on a high road grade, which could create a clearance problem.
Always remember, if you have doubts about whether or not it is safe to proceed with enough overhead clearance, find another route.
Space Management – BELOW
It can be easy to forget about the space below our vehicles. Out of sight, out of mind, right? The fact is, the space below your vehicle can be very small when you are fully loaded, especially for heavy haulers.
Things like driveways, railroad tracks, dirt roads or unpaved sections of roads or lots can all present a clearance problem for your vehicle. For this reason alone, make sure you always have your landing gear cranked all the way up.
Space Management – CROSSING OR ENTERING TRAFFIC
Your vehicle accelerates slower and is longer than other vehicles, so you will need a larger gap to enter traffic. Also remember that your vehicle’s acceleration will vary depending on the load, so allow even more room if your vehicle is fully loaded.
Before you head out across the road, always properly gauge whether you can get safely across well before traffic reaches you. Allow yourself at least 7 – 15 seconds to clear an intersection. Clearing a longer intersection would take even longer.
Space Management – RIGHT TURNS
Utilizing proper technique when turning is essential as a professional truck driver. Whether it be wide turning or off-tracking, big rig trucks run the risk of hitting either objects or other vehicles as they execute a turn.
When making a right turn, always proceed slowly and with caution. Scan ahead to identify problems and always give yourself or others enough time to respond to an unexpected problem.
If you are having a problem making a right turn without swinging into another lane, make sure to turn wide as you complete the turn and keep the rear of your vehicle as close to the curb as possible.
Keep an eye on the right side of your vehicle, and never take for granted that a smaller vehicle may have tried to pass you on that side. Never turn wide left in the turn, lest a driver behind you thinks you are turning left and try’s to pass you on the right side.
If for any reason you have to cross into the oncoming lane to make a turn, keep a keen eye for approaching vehicles. Always give them enough time or give them room to stop or go by. Above all, never back up.
Space Management – LEFT TURNS
When making a left turn, make sure your vehicle has reached the very center of the intersection before executing the turn. Starting too soon could put the trailer on a shorter path, potentially leading it to hitting light poles, signs or other vehicles.
In the case where you are on a road with two turn lanes, always utilize the farthest right turn lane. Starting on the inside lane could result in a hard swing to the right to make the turn, which is unsafe.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our coverage on how important it is to manage the space around your vehicle. Above all, always remember your safety cushion. Don’t face disqualification, or worse, for a lack of spacial awareness. Safe driving out there!