Local News

Troopers, Truckers Offer Advice on Sharing the Road

Posted January 16, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— The basic rule-of-thumb when trucks and cars tangle on the highway is: cars don't stand a chance. Supporting that theory are two recent incidents. Wednesday, two people were killed on Interstate 95 when the driver of a car changed lanes in front of a truck. On August 23, 1996, eight people died on I-85 after a tractor-trailer plowed into a cluster of slow moving cars.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol says there are some lessons to be learned. The rules of the road are only a starting point when dealing with big rigs.

Trucker Paul Spradling says it often seems drivers of smaller vehicles will do whatever it takes to get around a slow-moving truck.

The highway patrol says Wednesday's crash resulted from a driver making an improper lane change into the path of a truck. Driver Thomas Grooms says it's not an uncommon practice.

It takes longer to stop trucks and the larger the truck, generally, the longer it takes to stop it. It all comes down to physics. Some trucks weigh as much as 80,000 pounds and move at speeds of 55-to-70 mph. That adds up to a lot of time and distance for stopping.

One old adage says you should be able to see the "whites of the truck driver's eyes" before pulling over into the truck's lane. While that may sound impossible, the point is that you should be far enough ahead of the truck to see the windshield in your rear-view mirror without straining.

Trooper A.A. Haswell says people need to think logically about traveling alongside tractor-trailers.

When a car and truck collide the price paid can be extremely high. State troopers recommend using your rear-view mirrors and keeping an eye on blind spots. They also say it could pay to simply slow down and be patient.