How to Share the Road with Tractor-Trailers

Making room for tractor-trailers.

With “The People’s Convoy” launching this week, bands of 18-wheelers will take to the road. Likely, there will be miles of rigs lined up with perhaps some passenger vehicles interspersed. Therefore, this is an appropriate time to review the best practices for everyday drivers as they make their way down the highway with semis, buses, and RVs nearby.

Tractor Trailer

Allow for a Wide Berth

Truck drivers need plenty of room as they travel. The sheer size of a rig loaded perhaps with 80,000 pounds of goods means that they take up plenty of territory. Equally, the stopping distance of a semi-truck is much longer than a car. Indeed, the FMCSA claims that a car traveling at 65 mph would take about 300 feet to come to a complete stop. On the other hand, an 18-wheeler needs about 525 feet to come to a full stop at the same speed.

Also, passenger vehicles mustn’t ride side-by-side with a tractor-trailer. For one, you most likely will be in their blind spot. For another, when they are ready to switch lanes, they may not have time to slow down. This means you could be inadvertently targeted as you’re traveling along the road.

When following a truck, leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the rig. You are far enough behind if you can see the truck’s side mirrors. Conversely, this means the truck driver can see you and plan accordingly.

Tractor-Trailers: Pass With Care

If you are following a semi on the road and need to pass, there are a few things to keep in mind before making your move.

First, signal your intentions. Let the trucker and other vehicle operators know what you’re planning to do.

Second, before you make your move, check your rearview and side mirrors. You want to ensure that the coast is clear.

Third, look over your shoulder. Mirrors and blind spot warnings may not be enough. You need to physically turn to see what’s there.

Fourth, make your move. Once you have a clear road ahead, move out of your lane, press down on the accelerator, and pass the truck. If you are on a multi-lane highway, you should have ample time to pass the truck before moving over to the right lane. If you are on a two-lane road, only pass when the road stripes are in your favor and there is enough time to make your maneuver.

Finally, never move over to a lane occupied by a rig if you cannot see the truck’s headlights in your rearview mirror. The more room between you and the truck that is now following you, the better.

Take Weather Into Consideration

Dry circumstances typically supply optimum driving conditions. But, once a road is slick, the braking time for all vehicles is extended. Keep that in mind while driving. Allow for additional space between you and other vehicles, including trailers.

Other conditions that can affect driving, include snow, ice, smoke, and high winds. Extra time and space should be allowed under adverse conditions.

Rules of the Road

Equally, tractor-trailer operators and passenger vehicle drivers must follow the same rules of the road. It may seem that semis have the right-of-way, but they do not. That said, keep in mind their reaction times and maneuverability when encountering an 18-wheeler. Drive defensively, avoid aggressive moves, and never cut off other drivers.


BE AWARE OF BLIND SPOTS. (n.d.). Retrieved from

NC DPS: No-Zone Safety. (n.d.). Retrieved February 22, 2022, from website:

Tips for Driving Safely Around Large Trucks or Buses. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Photo Attribution

Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

Image by Rauschenberger from Pixabay.

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Matt Keegan
Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan is a journalist, media professional, and owner of this website. He has an extensive writing background and has covered the automotive sector continuously since 2004. When not driving and evaluating new vehicles, Matt enjoys spending his time outdoors.

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