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Behind-the-Wheel

Watch for no zones

One of the critical concepts I learned as a collision investigator was that fully loaded heavy trucks have
50-60% of the braking capability of light vehicles.

This assumes that the braking system is not overheated, has been maintained properly and is correctly adjusted.

Air-brake systems also suffer from brake lag, a short period that occurs between the driver stepping on the brake pedal and the brakes starting to apply.

These two thoughts ran through my mind when I read a Facebook post from a commercial driver.

He had used a frame from his dash-cam that showed proper following distance between his front bumper and the back bumper of the pickup truck ahead of him.

He had drawn a pink rectangle in this space and advised that he needed every inch of it to stop if something happened to require it.

If that space wasn't there, whatever was inside it was going to be crushed. Think carefully about that for a moment.

We've all been taught to leave at least a two-second following distance between us and the vehicle ahead of us when conditions are good.

When they are not, we need to leave more space, perhaps adding another second for each factor that departs from the ideal.

Remember that 50-60% braking comparison? This means that heavy commercial drivers actually need to follow a four-second rule. So do the drivers in front of them.

We should also have been taught that we don't complete our pass or change lanes unless we can see all of the front of the vehicle behind us in our inside rear view mirror.

This may not be enough space when a heavy commercial vehicle is behind you. In fact, if you are too close to the front of a heavy truck, you could become invisible to its driver.

The area in front of a commercial vehicle is not the only place that a light vehicle driver needs to worry about. There are a number of other "No Zones" beside and to the rear.

Ignoring them could involve you in a squeeze play as this driver in Port Alberni found out.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/commercial-vehicles/thinking-ahead-big-trucks

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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