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Commercial Motor Vehicle

Share the road with trucks.

Roadway safety is the responsibility of all drivers, but you can take certain steps to ensure you’re doing your part. When driving near or around a semi-truck or other large vehicles, be sure to follow these tips: 
 
  • Drive defensively. It’s important to remain alert at all times – especially around large trucks. Semi-trucks are bigger in size and weight, making them slower to react to avoid collisions. Pay attention to vehicle locations, traffic flow, vehicle signals and weather so you can anticipate problems and have plenty of time to react. 
  • Keep a safe distance. Driving close to a semi or large vehicle puts you at greater risk for being involved in a crash by sudden stops, tire blowouts or rollovers caused by strong wind. Regardless of your position near the semi or large vehicle, leave plenty of space for merging, swerving or maneuvering. It’s best practice to keep at least a four-second following distance between you and the vehicle in case of a sudden stop. 
  • Avoid blind spots. Large vehicles have extensive blind spots on both sides. If you can’t see the driver’s face in their side-view mirror, they can’t see you — which may result in a collision if they move into your lane. Avoid spending time in these “no-zones” to ensure the driver can see you. 
  • Pass safely, or not at all. Semi-truck and other large vehicles need twice the time and space to stop as smaller passenger vehicles. When changing lanes in front of large vehicles, allow one vehicle length for every 10 mph you are traveling (70 mph = 7 car lengths). Make sure the entire front of the semi-truck or the large vehicle is visible in your rearview mirror before moving to the right lane, and don’t slow down. Give them room. 
  • Pay close attention. Never cross behind a truck that’s backing up. Truck drivers don’t have a rearview mirror and therefore may not see you behind them.
  • Avoid the "squeeze play." Truck and bus drivers sometimes need to swing wide to the left to safely make a right turn. They can’t see vehicles squeezing in between them and the curb. Watch for their turn signals and give them room to turn.
Other tips for motorists to be aware of while driving around semi-trucks or other large vehicles:
 
  • Wind gusts. Trucks have a large amount of surface area, creating a sail-like effect which may cause unexpected drifts into your lane.
  • Turbulence. Trucks can create heavy air turbulence, especially near underpasses and shelterbelts. The turbulence can affect your ability to control your vehicle. Keep both hands on the wheel.
  • Snow Cloud/Fog and Spray. Trucks can create large snow clouds and lingering snow fog that can temporarily and dramatically reduce visibility. They can also spray slush, dirt, or mud on your windshield, obstructing your view.
  • Acceleration and Stopping. Trucks take longer to stop and regain their speed. Plan and adjust accordingly.

Lead Agencies:

ND State Highway Patrol
ND DOT
ND Department of Health