Driving in a city can be stressful in a passenger car, let alone in a truck – flatbed, semi, auto hauler, box truck, it doesn’t matter. Urban driving presents many hazards, such as traffic, the presence of many cars in a small amount of space, narrow winding streets, sharp turns, and pedestrians. Trucks are perhaps not the ideal city vehicles. It’s not easy trying to get where you have to go in the city, but we’ve got some tips to help you stay safe when you have to drive through a densely populated area.
1. Be alert for slow-downs in traffic.
Driving in the city is always an adventure. Since there are a lot of people on the road, traffic tends to slow down and stop frequently. You need to be looking ahead and watching for brake lights so you have enough time to slow down or stop if needed – you can’t stop a truck on a dime, so stick to the speed limit and be ready to stop if needed.
2. Keep a safe following distance.
This goes along with our first point. Since trucks need more time and space to stop than passenger cars, it’s important to have plenty of room in front of your truck. Don’t follow the car in front of you too closely. You don’t want to rear-end anyone, and with the stop-and-go pattern of city traffic, it’s especially necessary to maintain a safe following distance so you’re not in a panic slamming on your brakes at every pause.
3. Signal your turns and lane changes in advance.
When you’re driving a big, bulky vehicle like a truck, signaling your turns is a must. Other drivers need to be alerted that you’re slowing down to turn or that you’re changing lanes. You’re not alone on the road, so let others know what your intentions are. Especially since trucks require more space to turn and change lanes than normal passenger cars.
4. Change lanes safely.
When you change lanes, be sure to signal your intention. Check your mirrors. Do a shoulder check. Then smoothly and carefully glide into the next lane. Don’t try to zip over into the other lane or jump in front of anyone. Make sure you have enough space.
5. Use your mirrors.
Checking your side mirrors and your rearview mirror helps you keep tabs on any hazards around you. It’s especially important to use your mirrors when changing lanes. Knowing what’s going on around you helps you to avoid accidents.
6. Turn carefully.
Knowing your route ahead of time helps you plan for turns. That means you can change lanes safely to prepare to turn. You can also slow down gradually and avoid hitting the brakes hard or taking a turn too fast. And, like we said, it’s important to signal your turn.
7. Be mindful of merges.
Take merges slow and be aware of your blind spots. Be alert for what the drivers around you are doing. You may be able to avoid the merge by getting into the left lane if you’re able to do so.
8. Be alert at intersections.
Intersections can be dangerous. If there’s a red light ahead, slow down early and carefully. When you come to a yellow light, try to slow down and stop if it’s safe. It might be tempting to try to zoom through to “make” the light, but it’s a better plan to avoid getting a ticket or causing an accident. When the light turns green, check the intersection to make sure the coast is clear before hitting the gas.
9. Avoid drivers who are driving unsafely.
Pay attention to the actions of the other drivers on the road. If there’s a car that’s zipping between lanes (a.k.a. weaving) or veering from side to side between the lines of their lane, try to change lanes to avoid them. Remove yourself from the situation and stay safe. Not everyone follows the law when it comes to driving, and you can’t expect that other drivers will do the right thing.
10. Stay calm.
Driving in the city can aggravate even the most patient of people. It’s best to try to stay calm, no matter how frustrating the other drivers on the road are. Getting angry will not improve your driving.
Driving in the city is not something that many people enjoy – it’s often very stressful and there is often a lot of traffic. When you have to venture into the city with your truck, take it easy, leave lots of space around your vehicle, and be alert for any slow-downs in traffic. Stay safe on city streets.
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