cars and trucks are not always friends (part 1)

September 4, 2010

(1)    Unlike in a car, it is very difficult to make a RIGHT-HAND-TURN in a truck.  The trailer inevitably rounds off all corners, so trucks must take corners very wide to avoid their ass-end taking out light-posts and pedestrians.
How wide depends on the shape of the corner. Sometimes, wide must be what may look bizarre and/or alarming… swinging left into the intersection and then arching back to the right to make the corner. (This maneuver, by the way, is called a “button-hook”).
The need to swing wide like this is why trucks will sometimes try to use two (or very occasionally even more) lanes before trying to make a corner. In order to do this safely — and stop silly car drivers from putting themselves in danger — a smart truck will try to hog all the lanes he’ll need. This might be driving in two lanes at once, or stopping at the corner on a bossy angle.

If a car ignores the white stop-line at an intersection, the above manouver becomes even more difficult or even impossible.
If a car is stopped beyond the line, even if it seems to be painted oddly back from the corner,  it is in the intersection illegally.  Unfortunately, I’ve never heard of anyone getting a ticket for blocking traffic like this… but is it really worth risking the front end of a car?

(3) If a truck tire blows out, it makes a very startling boom… and bits of tire (some very big) usually go flying.  Besides the likely-hook that your heart may skip five beats at the boom… if a truck is ever going to swerve into your lane, it will very likely be on just this sort of occasion.
I frequently see cars driving (on an almost open-wide freeway) right next to my trailer’s tires. Even just behind the rear corner of a truck isn’t a good idea.  Of course, this doesn’t apply when traffic has jammed to a crawl… but at full speed you can choose a more sensible position.

(4) Although I did want to stress that large pieces of tire will fly during a blow-out…  Even a “gater” (a large strip of tire-tread lying in the roadway) is not so larger it makes sense to serve.
Trucks are equally guilty of this momentary lack of good judgment.
You are FAR more likely to cause damage to yourself (not to mention the poor sod driving in that lane next to you) by swerving to avoid a gater than by running over it.  (Sure a normally paced lane change is sensible, if you see it in time)

(5) Trucks often flash their rear lights to thank others for doing something kind. Truck-drivers are often act like idiots and assholes… but if one lets you in or in otherwise kind to you:  consider flashing a thanks. Just put your four-ways on for a couple blips.
You’ll make some driver’s day.

(6) When stopped at an intersection, nobody can tell how heavy — and therefore slow — a truck is.  Trucks are empty roughly 1/3 of the time. Another 1/3 of loads are quite light.
At least once per day I am cut off by someone who is startled when I am able to reach traffic-speed much sooner than they had assumed.  Frequently it is this:
* car and truck are lined up in two left-turn lanes at a set of lights
** truck (as it always must be) is in the outside of the two turning lanes
*** car zooms through its turn, and then swerves in front of the truck to make a sudden right hand turn.
There are plenty of variations…

(7) If a truck is backing off the street without somebody stopping traffic by standing in the road…
(a) they are very dumb; they can and should insist on having someone keeping an eye on traffic. Do not put your car in the way of a truck driven by an idiot.
(b) even if they can see you (and lots of the time, they can not)… the truck is paying much more attention to getting its ass-end where it should go. A lack of attention to you is to your advantage.
(c) the more cars distract the truck, the longer it will take for that truck to finish backing in… the longer everyone has to wait.


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