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No one wants to drive next to an eighteen-wheeler on the highway. The scariest thing of all is riding between two tractor-trailer trucks in a typical eleven foot wide lane like Interstate 64 (I-64) or Interstate 264 (I-264) in Virginia.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a website called "Accident Counter Measures Manual", which sets forth some of the defensive driving and preventative maintenance procedures which they recommend for commercial truck drivers to avoid accidents. Some of the highlights are as follows:

    • Learn to recognize driving situations that can be hazardous.

    • Assume other drivers will make errors.

    • Adjust speed, position, direction and attention to be able to maneuver safely if a hazard develops.

    • Scan thoroughly before changing speed or direction.

    • Before you pass, check to be certain no one is passing you.

    • Watch out for vehicles passing other vehicles from the opposite direction.

    • If the vehicle you are trying to pass speeds up, let it go. Don’t get into a dangerous race.

    • Don’t take risks. If in doubt, don’t pass.

    • Signal your intentions to pass.

    • Approach intersection assuming that cross traffic may not obey traffic control and anticipate the need for avoidance.

    • When crossing an uncontrolled intersection, allow enough time to clear entire road with rear of vehicle without interfering with cross traffic. Don’t count on cross traffic slowing down to let you pass. They may not see you.

    • Try to scan ahead of what is immediately in front of you.

    • If you see trouble ahead, flash your brake lights to alert drivers following you.

    • If you cannot see ahead of the vehicle you are following, increase your following distance.

    • The most important rule in lane usage is to maintain a safe following distance. Use any method you feel comfortable with. Just try to ensure that if the driver in front of you slams on his brakes, you can avoid a collision, stay in your lane and not be hit by the vehicle following you all at the same time.

The FMCSA website is full of helpful advice for drivers of all types of vehicles. This advice is simple to follow (it’s mostly common-sense advice to begin with), and it can make the roads a much safer place. If semi-truck drivers took this advice to heart, we could all feel a lot safer on the roads.

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