Welcome to the second installment of a series where we take a deeper look at how to best communicate your intent to those around you on the road. In this discussion, we are going to take a look at the various way you can communicate your presence, as much as your intent.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways for you to let people know you’re there, whether it be through your own actions or through some technological means. Let’s dig down into the basics.
The A,B,Cs of Communicating Presence
Always remember that people may not notice your vehicle, even when it is clearly in plain sight. Sometimes it is up to you to communicate your presence.
For example: If you are about to pass a pedestrian or a cyclist, automatically assume that they don’t see you and are liable to move in front of your vehicle at any given moment. Once it is safe and legal to do so, steer to the left of your lane and lightly tap the horn, or at night, flash your lights. Make sure to execute these maneuvers from a distance, so as not to startle the individual.
When it comes to communicating your presence, few things do this better than your headlights, no matter the time of day. You should be running your lamps from dusk to dawn, especially in times of rain, snow, fog or other inclement weather. Remember, not only is this helping you see the road, it’s also helping other drivers see you.
The fact is, driver error is the number one cause of tractor-trailer accidents. Always stay vigilant, stay alert, and make sure you are doing your best to ensure those around you know you’re there. Remember, it’s not just your CSA scores at stake.
Your horn is right up there with lights among the best ways to communicate your presence. Even so, only use it when absolutely necessary – to prevent an accident, for example. Overuse of your horn is dangerous. Always remember that a light tap sends a far different message than a long blast.
For most purposes, only use your vehicle’s electric horn. The air horn is quite loud and can easily distract or frighten others.
In general, the horn should only be used to prevent an accident or warn others of impending danger. It isn’t a toy or all-purpose communication device and should be used only in appropriate situations.
When your vehicle is stopped on what is considered a “traveled” portion of the highway, you must immediately activate the hazard warning flashers. Any other emergency warning devices – such as flares or cones – need to be set out within 10 minutes.
As you place the devices, ensure you wear a high-visibility vest. If a high-visibility vest is not available, set the emergency warning devices up in front of you, with your body closest to the shoulder. And above all, be quick. Always be alert for vehicles that may not see you on the roadway.
For more information on warning devices visit section 392.22 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).
When used safely and legally, the citizen’s band (CB) radio is a capable communication device. CBs can provide valuable information about weather and traffic. They also allow you to notify authorities in the event of an accident or emergency.
CBs are also how truckers communicate. The best way to send and receive crucial information is through each other. But just like your vehicle’s horn, CBs should be used with proper consideration and respect. Avoid idle chatter and never use offensive language over a CB radio.
These are some of the most capable and widely used means of communicating your presence, but they’re not all. Join us in our third and final part of our communication series, when we cover cell phone usage, text messaging, and deciphering communication from others.