To reduce the chance of having a collision with a large truck or RV, you must be familiar with a big rig’s physical capabilities and how it maneuvers.
Large trucks take longer to stop than passenger vehicles traveling at the same speed. The average passenger vehicle traveling at 55 mph can stop within 400 feet. However, a large truck traveling at the same speed can take almost 800 feet to stop. Do not move in front of a large truck and suddenly slow down or stop. The truck driver will not be able to stop quickly enough to avoid crashing into you.
Shaded areas are the driver’s blind spots.
Passenger vehicle drivers incorrectly assume that a trucker can see the road better because they are higher off the road. While truckers do have a better forward view and bigger mirrors, they still have large blind spots or “NO ZONES” where your vehicle can disappear from a truck driver’s view.
If you stay in those blind spots, you block the trucker’s ability to take evasive action to avoid a dangerous situation. Generally speaking, if you cannot see the truck driver in their side mirror, they cannot see you.
When a vehicle makes a turn, the rear wheels follow a shorter path than the front wheels. The longer the vehicle, the greater the difference in the turning path. This is why big rig drivers must often swing wide to complete a right turn. When you follow a big rig, look at its turn signals before you start to pass. If the truck appears to be turning left, check the turn signals again; the driver may actually be turning right but first swinging wide.
Trucks are not as maneuverable as passenger vehicles. Large trucks have longer stopping and starting distances. They take more space for turns and weigh more. When no signs are posted, these vehicles must be driven in the right traffic lane or as close as possible to the right edge of the roadway.
On a divided highway with 4 or more traffic lanes in one direction, these vehicles may also be driven in the lane just to the left of the right lane.
Avoid these mistakes when driving around large trucks:
Do not drive through a safety zone, which is a space set aside for pedestrians, marked by raised buttons or markers on a roadway. When people are boarding or leaving a streetcar or trolley where there is no safety zone, stop behind the vehicle’s nearest door or vehicle platform and wait until the people have reached a safe place. When a bus, streetcar, or trolley is stopped at a safety zone or at an intersection where traffic is controlled by a peace officer or traffic signal light, you may pass at no more than 10 mph.
Do not overtake and pass any light-rail vehicle or streetcar on the left side, whether it is moving or standing.
Light-rail vehicles have the same rights and responsibilities on public roadways as other vehicles. Although everyone must follow the same traffic laws, light-rail vehicles require exceptional handling ability because of their size.
Safely share the road with light-rail vehicles by:
Do not turn in front of light rail vehicles
Safety Zones are marked by dotted white lines
Note: Light-rail vehicles can interrupt traffic signal lights. Do not proceed until the traffic signal light indicates you may proceed.
You must yield the right-of-way to any police vehicle, fire engine, ambulance, or other emergency vehicle using a siren and red lights. Drive to the right edge of the road and stop until the emergency vehicle(s) have passed. However, never stop in an intersection. If you are in an intersection when you see an emergency vehicle, continue through the intersection and then, drive to the right as soon as it is safe and stop. Emergency vehicles often use the wrong side of the street to continue on their way. They sometimes use a loudspeaker to talk to drivers blocking their path.
Yield to Emergency Vehicles
You must obey any traffic direction, order, or signal given by a traffic or peace officer, or a firefighter even if it conflicts with existing signs, signals, or laws.
It is against the law to follow within 300 feet behind any fire engine, police vehicle, ambulance, or other emergency vehicle with a siren or flashing lights (CVC §21706).
If you drive for sight-seeing purposes to the scene of a fire, collision, or other disaster, you may be arrested. Casual observers interfere with the essential services of police, firefighter, ambulance crews, or other rescue or emergency personnel.
Some vehicles are not designed to keep up with the speed of traffic. Farm tractors, animal-drawn carts, and road maintenance vehicles usually travel 25 mph or less. Slow-moving vehicles have an orange/red triangle on the back of the vehicles. It
looks like the sign in the picture to the right. Look for these vehicles and adjust your speed before you reach them.
A Slow Moving Vehicle
Also, be aware that large trucks, bicyclists, and small-underpowered cars lose speed on long or steep hills and take longer to get up to speed when entering traffic.
Other types of slow-moving motorized vehicles, such as wheelchairs, scooters, neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs), and golf carts may legally operate on public roads. Adjust your speed accordingly to accommodate them.
Vehicles proceeding at a speed less than the flow of traffic and moving on a two-lane highway where passing is unsafe, must turn off the roadway at the nearest place designated as a turnout or wherever sufficient area for a safe turnout exists, if a line of 5 or more vehicles forms behind them.
When you see these signs or markings: NEV USE ONLY or NEV ROUTE, watch out for slow-moving vehicles in the roadway. NEVs and LSVs are restricted from roadways where the speed limit is greater than 35 mph (CVC §§385.5 and 21260). NEVs and LSVs reach a maximum speed of 25 mph. Owners of registered NEVs and LSVs must comply with financial responsibility laws and have a valid DL to operate the vehicle.
Horse-drawn vehicles and riders of horses or other animals are entitled to share the road with motor vehicles. It is a traffic offense to scare horses or stampede livestock. Slow down or stop, if necessary, or when requested to do so by the riders or herders.
Motorcyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as automobile drivers. While everyone must follow the same traffic laws, motorcyclists face additional dangers because motorcycles require exceptional handling ability and are harder to see. Therefore, many motorcycles keep their headlight on at all times, even during daylight hours.
Motorcyclists can do many things to increase their chances of being seen by drivers and other road users, including:
Follow these rules to respect the right-of-way and safely share the road with motorcyclists:
Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicle and motorcycle drivers, including:
Bicyclists shall not operate a bicycle on a roadway unless the bicycle is equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make a one-wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
Turns for bicyclists
Intersections with special lanes
During darkness, bicyclists should avoid wearing dark clothing and must have the following equipment:
Bicyclists have the right to operate on the road and may:
Bicyclists traveling slower than the flow of traffic must ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway except in the following situations:
Passing a bicyclist that is in the travel lane at a safe distance may require changing into another lane, passing safely and quickly, and returning to your original lane leaving room between your vehicle and the bicyclist. When you cannot change lanes to pass a bicyclist, allow at least 3 feet between your vehicle and the bicyclist. If you are unable to pass within 3 feet of space, pass at a safe speed to not endanger the bicyclist.
Here are some critical points for drivers and bicyclists to remember. Motor vehicle drivers must:
Pedestrians using guide dogs or white canes with or without a red tip must be given the right-of-way at all times. These pedestrians are partially or totally blind. When these pedestrians are in your vicinity, be especially careful when turning corners or backing up, particularly if you are driving a quiet hybrid vehicle.
Here are some suggestions for helping pedestrians who are blind:
Signs and message boards warn you of workers, slow- moving equipment, and closed lanes ahead. Cones, drums, or other barriers will guide you through the work zone. Reduce your speed and be prepared to slow down or stop for highway equipment. Merge as soon as it is safe to do so and without crossing the cones or drums. In work zones where lanes are narrow or where the shoulder is closed, watch for bicycles and “share the road” when they are present. Watch for work zone speed limit and reduced speed limit warning signs.
For your own safety and the safety of your passengers remember to pass the work zone carefully, slow down, allow extra following room between vehicles, merge early, expect sudden slowing or stopping, watch for drivers changing lanes at the last minute, and avoid distractions while driving in a work zone. Distractions include using your hands-free cell phone, reading/sending text messages, and/or operating your GPS and entertainment systems. Fines for traffic violations in a work zone can be $1,000 or more. Anyone convicted of assaulting a highway worker faces fines of up to $2,000 and imprisonment for up to 1 year.
Do not stop or slow down to watch the road work. Obey special signs or instructions from workers (flaggers).
Due to increased collision-related injuries and fatalities, certain roads are designated as “Safety Enhanced-Double Fine Zones.” Fines for violations are doubled in these zones and also in highway construction or maintenance zones when workers are present (CVC §42010).
Drivers are required to move over a lane, if safe to do so, or slow down when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle or tow truck that is displaying flashing amber warning lights, or a Department of Transportation (Caltrans) vehicle displaying emergency flashing or amber warning lights while stopped on the side of a state highway or freeway. The law is designed to reduce the deaths of peace officers, tow truck drivers, paramedics, Caltrans employees, and other emergency personnel who are aiding stranded or injured motorists or involved in road work.
A diamond-shaped sign on a truck means that the load on the truck is potentially dangerous (gas, explosives, etc.). Vehicles which display these signs are required to stop before crossing railroad tracks.
Hazardous Load Placards
Small changes in your driving habits can help relieve chronic traffic congestion.
Avoid the following driving behaviors:
Aggressive driving can cause many serious problems on the roadway. All drivers must be aware of both aggressive driving and the behavior known as “road rage,” and what to do when they occur.
There are two important things to be aware of regarding aggressive drivers:
Ways to avoid becoming an aggressive driver include:
The following are examples of common behaviors that can lead to aggressive driving and how to avoid them: