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Advice from the IAM About Sharing the Road With Trucks

Published 14 May 2015

The IAM's head of driving standards, Peter Rogers, advises car drivers how best to cope with the presence of trucks on Britain's motorways. 

Many car drivers feel intimidated in the presence of large trucks on motorways, however, with careful planning this needn’t be a problem.

Be aware that all HGVs based within the EU are restricted to driving at 56mph; so their speed is relatively predictable.

You should never drive at 50mph in a lane to the right of a truck because as it cannot overtake you to your right, but the driver may be trying to keep to a tight delivery timetable and need to maintain the higher speed at 56mph. (You should not be in the centre lane at 50mph anyway.)

Be careful when overtaking left-hand-drive trucks on UK roads as they will have very little visibility of you to their right – the blind spot can be quite big.

One of the ways to identify a foreign truck is if the registration plate of a lorry ahead of you is anything other than an amber-coloured UK plate. While the truck driver can see much further ahead of you, he can see less on either side of him.

If you can, try to see the driver’s face before you overtake them. If you cannot see it, the driver will be unable to see you either.

Look out for the pattern of mirrors on a lorry – left-hand-drive lorries will usually have a mirror pointing downwards on the right-hand side which means you can identify them more easily (UK trucks have this mirror on the left.)

If you can, you should allow an additional lane when passing lorries (e.g. go into the third lane and not just the second lane.) This means you will be less likely to be “side swiped” by a truck driver who didn’t see you. Trucks tend to create a lot of wind effect in front of and behind them causing passing vehicles to be blown around and this avoids that problem as well.

Avoid making last minute manoeuvres and leave plenty of room between you and the lorry to avoid any sudden collisions. Remember, trucks cannot react in the same way as a car can – give them space.

Peter Rodger said: “There is no reason why dealing with lorries should be a cause for worry. What would make matters a lot easier for everyone is allowing space and time for the truck driver to react and do their thing. They will appreciate it if you show them this courtesy, and make your motorway journey a far sweeter experience. Happy motoring.”

More at IAM

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