Avoid a ruck with a truck

This week's driving tips from the IAM's head of driving standards, Peter Rodger, are looking at how to handle overtaking lorries on the motorway. Many people feel intimidated when dealing with large trucks on motorways, however, with careful planning this needn't be a problem.
  • Be aware that all lorries based within the EU are restricted to driving at 56mph; so their speed is relatively predictable.
  • In essence, you shouldn't drive at 50mph in a lane to the right of a truck as it cannot overtake you, but the driver may be trying to keep to a tight delivery timetable and need to maintain the higher speed at 56mph.
  • Be careful when overtaking left-hand-drive lorries 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!"


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