When it comes to the types of motor vehicles traveling along California’s freeways and highways, motorcycles and trucks sit at opposite ends of the size spectrum. At some point when you’re out riding your bike, you will inevitably find yourself sharing the road with trucks, which is fine so long as you and the truck driver remain vigilant and mutually respectful of one another’s space and safety. Unfortunately, most of the burden falls on your shoulders as the rider of a much smaller vehicle, because if a mistake does occur that results in a collision, the truck is very likely to come out just fine while you and your motorcycle will not. So, to keep yourself as safe as possible, we offer the following advice.
Avoid wind sheer
In a previous blog post we shared tips for remaining safe while driving through windy conditions. One of the biggest risks when riding near a truck is the amount of wind the larger vehicle pushes, and the physics of how that wind travels around the truck. While you might actually be afforded temporary protection from wind gusts when riding right next to a truck as soon as you pass in front of it, you should expect to be hit with an even harder blast. Prepare yourself by maintaining a firm grip on your handlebars, leaning forward, and passing the truck quickly. Also, make sure you are well ahead of the truck before returning to a normal traveling speed.
Beware blind spots
Large 18-wheel trucks in particular have multiple large blind spots you should take pains to keep out of. The hood of the truck is one, and the amount of the trucker’s view it obscures depends on how long it is. If a truck is traveling right behind you, it’s best to move into another lane assuming that’s an option.
There are also blind spots on either side of the truck. Similar to those affecting car drivers but larger, the rule of thumb is that if you cannot see the trucker’s reflected in the mirrors, then it’s safe to assume the driver cannot see you either. In that case, either speed up or slow down until you can see the driver in their mirrors.
The blind spot caused by the trailer portion of the truck completely obscures you from the trucker’s view, plus you will not be able to see clearly around it. Never tailgate a truck, and again, if possible, avoid traveling behind one. If you must ride behind an 18-wheeler, maintain a significant cushion between yourself and the back of the truck just in case it stops suddenly.
Different makes, models, and sizes of trucks may have different blind spots affecting more or less of the driver’s visible range. The best rule of thumb is to avoid spending time riding anywhere in the truck’s immediate vicinity.
Pass trucks quickly
Acceleration and space are key to passing a truck safely on a multi-lane roadway. Speed up as fast as you can, and once you’ve begun to pass don’t slow down until you are completely clear of the truck. Maintain a safety cushion between yourself and the right side of the truck as you pass. Trailers tend to wobble and shift, which means it could veer into your lane and potentially knock you off your bike while you’re passing. Once you have passed, don’t pull back into the truck’s lane immediately, as you might inadvertently pass into the front blind spot and risk being driven over, especially if you slow down. Wait until you’re at least a car length or two beyond the truck before you return to the same lane of travel.
Call a Los Angeles motorcycle crash attorney
Winding up in an accident with a larger vehicle, be it a car or truck, tends to be far more serious for the motorcycle rider than for other motorists. If you suffered severe injuries because of a crash, it’s time to call Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyer Scott J. Corwin for a free initial consultation at 866-477-1011.