Truck Drivers Share Lesser-Known Road Courtesies To Make Their Job Safer
Image by DEZALB from Pixabay

Being a truck driver sounds like a difficult task. As someone who doesn't drive, I can't imagine operating one of those big sixteen wheelers, so I have mad respect for those that do. Not to mention the fact that truck drivers barely get to sleep, and have to be on top of it at all hours of the day.

So a bunch of truck drivers took to Reddit to tell the world how we can make their jobs a little easier. Jamesjamesjames3 asked:

Truckers of reddit, what are some less common road courtesies that we can offer to you to make your job safer and easier?

Generally, most truck drivers just ask for you to obey the rules of the road.

Definitely a headache.

“I say this as a former trucker and as a regular driver. I appreciate the gesture but please don't be polite. Be predictable! Follow all the rules of the road as written and there won't be as much confusion.”


“That is one of my biggest pet peeves. In my area, no one seems to know how to stop at a two way stop. I've raged about it a few times and people I considered pretty intelligent confessed they didn't know the rules so they wave people through.

Basically, if you're turning right, you're good. For some reason people going straight like to stop and wave the people the if left through. They do it in the dark when there is no way you can see them waving. They do it with tinted windows. I get so mad because I've had to sit through 5 minutes of openings only to have the person going straight stare at me until the opening passed.

I've also seen near accidents where the person going straight goes when it's their turn and the left turning person expected they were going to get a free pass. It's a headache.”


​This one seems obvious, but not a lot of people follow it.

parking GIFGiphy

“Don't park in no parking zones... They may look like an empty spot marked off for no reason, but they are often there to give the trucker room to back in his very long trailer in what is probably already a tight space. If you park there, they cant get in.”


“Similarly, stop at the stop light where indicated. Sometimes the line is far back from the intersection to allow trucks to make the turn.”


“We always flash our headlights to signal that it's safe for a truck to merge in front of us. They often reciprocate with a return flash of 4 ways as a thank you.”


“A quick use of the 4 ways is usually a "thank you" signal to someone who indicated to them that could make some kind of traffic maneuver safely, like "i'm dimming my headlights because yes make your lane change, it's clear".

If a moving truck's 4 ways are just ON-on, then

  • they are moving much slower than the speed limit and want people behind them to notice that
  • it is a downgrade and they are reminding people that passing and then cutting them off with too little space is a really bad idea
  • they see some hazard ahead and want people behind them to heighten awareness and slow down
  • they are rapidly stopping because of standstill traffic or an accident and want people behind them to heighten awareness and slow down”

​Truck driving can get incredibly dangerous. Here are a few ways we can make it safer.

​Well that’s terrifying.

From back when I was driving, pass quickly and only on the left. If you camp out on my side, you're sitting next to tires that have a pressure of 100 pounds per square inch.

Never had a tractor tire blow, but when the trailer tires went it shakes the truck like a grenade went off. Don't sit there waiting for the grenade to go off.”


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Never tailgate a semi.

homer simpson truck GIFGiphy

“I drive for Amazon and I once had to take a right turn into a gravel lot to drop off a trailer. When turning you have to slow down A LOT and make it a wide turn so your trailer doesn't hit the curb or ditch on the side. Well this turn had a ditch and the fellow driving behind me was tailgating and was also impatient.

He misread my wide right turn as me turning left (for some reason?) and then proceeded to speed up around me which would have him heading directly towards my cab. So when he realized he effed up he swerved into the ditch and his car bounced back out of it totaling his car. All while this was happening I was just hoping he didn't hit me.

I pulled into the lot all the way so I wasn't blocking the road and then got out and asked him if he was okay and all he did was yell at me and curse and then called the police. When the police got there and heard both sides and realized that he did it to himself because of his reckless driving and that we didn't actually make any contact they let me go about my day.

The wife of the dude actually called me later and apologized for her husband which I thought was hilarious. So yeah don't tailgate a semi people.”


​Good tips.

“I own a trucking company, here's some things we would love the public to practice. Keep in mind, this is for the large sleeper bunk with 53' trailer. The guys who live on the road.

  1. Never get in front of a truck when you're approaching an amber light or a red light. That truck may weigh up to 80k and you've just reduced his stopping distance. You can out run him when the light turns green and get in front of him after.
  2. Tankers are dangerous, especially if they don't have baffles. Don't make any erratic moves around them because if they have to suddenly stop, Newton's first law will f*ck you up.
  3. If you're changing lanes in front of a driver, signal and slowly merge. Most driver's are trained to look several vehicles ahead and they have a better view. Just give them space, they could already be adjusting for a situation that's out of your field of vision.

In summary, give them space and time to assess the situation.

If a truck hits you, you'll probably die and the driver will be fine. Safety in large commercial vehicles primarily has the public in mind and driver's are trained to be defensive. Trucks and loads are insured, therefore replaceable.

At the end of the day, there is a human being in that truck and they are prone to the same emotional behavior that non-commercial drivers have. Most driver's are very mature, however, have tons of patience, and have seen a lot of sh*t on the road."


​Never brake check a semi either.

“Do not brake check. Stopping an 80,000+ pound vehicle is a lot harder than you might think."


"Yup. It takes a real idiot to brake checks a semi, and there are a lot of them.

Every trucker I know (my relatives and many family family friends) has at least one dash cam. Insurance companies and the trucking companies will KNOW with video evidence that the brake-checker was breaking the law. Often it's preceded by swerving in front by the car, giving insufficient space with an improper lane change.

If they collide the truck driver gets a short break, maybe a paid couple days off while repairs are made. Sometimes that's a minor inconvenience if they had intended to see family or something, but most long-haul truckers are gone for months at a time and it's actually a welcome break.

The trucking company and their insurance company bill the idiot's insurance company for the damages and the lost time.

The idiot who brake-checked has to pay their own repairs, often are given a ticket by cops (who are shown the video) and points on their driving record, and their insurance rates will go up assuming they can continue to get insurance.

The best case scenario for the idiot who brake checks a truck is that they get lucky and aren't hit.

If they truly 'succeed' then not only will the idiot's car will be totaled, maybe they'll even die."


​But with all of the safety protocols, there are also a few things you can do to make a truck driver’s day.

​This is so wholesome.

top gear GIFGiphy

“My dad was a trucker and I rode with him for years and years. Please do the air horn thing with your arm. It makes their day."


"My dad is a near retirement age trucker. His favorite story is the time he saw a group of school children walking on the sidewalk as he rode to the paper mill. They were all doing the arm motion, but it's illegal in the city limits so he's torn. He sees the end of the line and a police officer is at the end, one known as "Officer Friendly" and the officer looks at my dad and does the pull with a big smile so my dad just blasted that air horn.

The horn and the distinct sound of jake brakes define my childhood.

I called my Dad to tell him about this post and first I was proud he knew what Reddit was, second he got a real kick out of it. He said " It don't matter if you're a hard a**, tough guy trucker, you see a kid make that motion, you blast that thing!" And if you read that in the voice of Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused you get the authentic Gator because even though he's spent 40+ years almost as far North as he once was South, he doesn't sound like it."


A truck dance.

“Not a trucker but while driving through Nebraska one night I gave a trucker some room to get over but he didn't think he had enough so I flicked my headlights (turned them off and back on quickly) to let him know he had space. He moved over and then made all the lights on his rig and trailer do this crazy dance. That made me feel pretty cool.”


Give them space!

“For the love of all things kind and generous, please wait until you've got at minimum 4-5 car lengths of space before returning to my lane after passing. Cutting back into the lane immediately is dangerous and completely unnecessary. If there is no traffic behind you, 50 car lengths is better. Just give us some space please.

Same for vehicles towing a boat or other trailer. Provide those drivers the same courtesy that you'd give a trucker. They're often not very experienced with towing and space is free to give.

For example, a well kept BMW 3 Series with good tires and brakes takes about 200 feet to stop from 75 MPH AFTER recognition and decision. That is about 16 car lengths. Even if purely for self preservation, that ought to be the minimum space you'll allow between yourself and other vehicles. Yes I know that in heavy traffic that is often impossible to maintain but I've been on the interstate with just 1 other car visible and they'll stay in my lane until I think they'll hit my rear bumper and cut back in within 15' of my front bumper. Seriously, you've got the whole freeway. These drivers could wait minutes before switching back to the right lane and disrupt no one.

Trust that if you feel safer speeding by staying in the right lane as much as possible, today's Laser speed devices employed by the police can snag your speed at great distances no matter what lane and what vehicle is nearby. If you're going to speed, man up and take your chances because you’re still vulnerable anyways.”


Let’s be real, truck drivers are the real MVPs.

​Keep these in mind next time you’re on the road.

trucker GIFGiphy

“Not a whole lot, just a couple of things

When you're merging onto a highway, do your best to be going as fast or faster than traffic before you get into a lane of travel

Secondly try not to drive beside the truck/trailer as there are many times we need to move over because of people merging, broken vehicles, police officers, etc and it kinda sucks when we have to dump a lot of speed so that the car beside us will pass pass before we get to the thing we need to move over for because it takes much longer for us to accelerate to our previous speed.”


Stop being helpful!

“Rode shotgun for about two years, the number one thing my fiancé said was do not ever try to be helpful, drive like you normally would, being helpful makes you unpredictable.”


Watch out for tight turns.

“There's a red light on my way home and it's really tight for truckers turning onto the road. I always stop like 15 feet from the white line and the truckers seem to really appreciate it. They always give me a little wave.”


​That’s a tough one.

Excited Truck GIFGiphy

“I'm not a trucker but I'd like to point out that trucks are often excluded from the left lane on a thee lane road. That means the middle lane is their only passing lane.

It drives me nuts when I see people driving the same speed in the middle lane as the traffic on the right creating a rolling road block for truckers.

If you see a truck behind you and you're in the middle lane, move right if you can, especially on a downhill grade!”


​Good tips!

“When you see a truck parked on the side of the highway, move over or slow down (also called Murphy's Law in some states). Most of the time you'll see little orange hazard triangles on the road leading up to the truck but not always.

In very windy days, pass as quickly as possible if you need to pass. There were a few cars that didn't do this and when they went under an overhead bridge the suction was enough the cars lost complete control.

Also, when you pass, give room. If you can't see tires on the ground (and even a little road) in your rearview mirror you're too close to move over. This works for EVERY vehicle you pass and not just semis.

Pay attention to in town. When trucks make a right turn they have to do it wide! The number of cars I've seen that just take up the space between a truck and the curb because they weren't paying attention is insane.

One more: DON'T park on a curve. If the road is curved chances are nobody can see your vehicle if you park there, and once again it makes it difficult for trucks to make their wide turns.”


​To basically summarize everything written here, just don’t be an a**hole. Use common sense, and remember how much bigger a semi-truck is compared to your car.

Also, do the arm pull thingy. They love it.

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