4 tips on how to safely navigate around semi-trucks — especially during stormy weather

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – There have been multiple semitruck crashes along the Wasatch front Wednesday. The Utah Highway Patrol said only one had been weather-related, the others operator error. Officials now share tips to keep passenger drivers safe on the road.

Stormy weather can create unsafe driving conditions for all drivers on the road, but especially big rigs.

“If you get a blowout on a steer, which rarely happens, but if it happens, we’re swerving,” says Alex Halstead, co-owner of Apex Trucking School.

Halstead has been a semi-truck driver for several years. He knows first-hand what it’s like to be behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler and to have passenger cars following too close.

“We can’t see you and so we don’t know you’re there all the time,” he says.

“You don’t want to be too close or driving next to one of those. Make space for those vehicles. If they do go over, the last thing you want is to get caught on either side of them,” says Lt. Nick Street, with UHP.

He says situations like this are not uncommon.

“Try to slow down to a point where you can have ample following distance to react to adverse situations you might encounter with this weather,” Street says.

It’s reported passenger vehicles are responsible for 72 percent of crashes between large trucks and cars.

No matter the weather, Halstead shares four tips to keep drivers safe next to these big rigs.

The first, to never drive right next to a truck.

“Stay away from the trucks. Either get behind them or in front of them,” he says.

Second, pass them quickly.

“You know, you probably want to get ahead of them if the truck is doing their job right and going a fairly slow speed,” Halstead says.

Third, make sure to not drive in their blind spot.

“It’s an area on the side of the truck that you cannot see in your mirrors,” Halstead says.

And fourth, keep an eye out for drifting.

“If a gust of wind comes up, and it doesn’t have to be windy for that to happen, we have no control. It will blow us a full lane over – especially if you see doubles or triples,” he says.

The Utah Department of Transportation reports if a car is traveling at 65 miles per hour under ideal conditions, it takes less than a football field length to stop. However, for a semi-truck that’s fully loaded, it takes the length of almost two football fields.

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