Tag Archives: trucks

6 Safe Ways Motorcyclists Can Share the Road with Trucks

(Share the Road sponsored post for our North American readers)

The US Motorcycle Safety Foundation states that more than half of fatal motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle. A couple of months ago, a semi-truck collided with a large group of motorcyclists in New Hampshire killing 7 of the group’s riders. In the United States, the number of vehicle and motorcycle crashes have reminded us how dangerous the road is for motorcycles, especially when it’s shared with huge commercial trucks.

Both motorcyclists and truck drivers need to practice defensive and smart driving techniques when sharing the roadways. Here are a few simple safety tips motorcycle riders can keep in mind to help prevent mistakes and accidents that end up in serious or fatal crashes. Some of these tips can apply to other drivers too.

1.Keep a Bigger Following Distance

Motorbikes are a light weight vehicle, but the stopping time is just about the same for any average-sized car. Motorcycles cannot stop on a dime. Semi-trucks are way larger and heavier, which logically makes them harder to stop. For both motorcycles and trucks, a larger distance is going to give more time to react. A four-second distance is a good rule of thumb.

2. Make Yourself Visible

Due to the small size, a motor bike may seem further than it really is a truck driver’s mirror. Motorcyclists are more prone to get lost in blind spots and blend in with the background of the environment. Riders should make themselves as visible as they can. Make yourself more visible by either wearing bright clothing or with strategic riding.

Trucks reversed image lane filtering blind spot
All the bikes in this photo are in a truck’s blind spots

3. Use Your Brakes

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation says that most motorcyclist choose to slow down by either easing off the throttle or downshifting, depending on the situation. To avoid a potential rear end accident, it’s better to slow down with your brake, thus creating an indicator for larger vehicles with less stopping time.

4. Stay Awake and Alert

Operating a motorcycle requires more attention, physical strength and cognitive focus. Before riding, always make sure you are in the best condition to operate a motor vehicle efficiently and safely. Never ride when you are feeling drowsy, tired, fatigued or ill. Never ever ride a motorcycle after having a few drinks.

The same energy demand and focus applies for commercial truck drivers. According to Chris Simon, an Atlanta injury attorney, commercial drivers must follow strict regulations regarding their time spent driving.  “Under the Federal Hours of Service Regulations, drivers are limited to 60-70 hours of duty in a period of seven or eight days.” A semi-truck driver can pose a great danger on the road if they are fatigued or exhausted from driving over the Federal limit of on duty hours.

5. Use Extra Caution at Night

Like we said before, motorcycles are difficult for other larger vehicles to see. That difficulty is practically doubled during the night time or during low light conditions. Riders should operate their bikes with extra caution in these situations. Slow down, wear visible gear, and refrain from passing as much as you can.

6. Stay Out of Truck’s “No Zones”

All motor vehicles have “blind spots”. For semi-trucks these areas are larger. Truck drivers have to rely mostly on their mirrors to check for any oncoming vehicles. Drivers also have difficulty seeing what’s within 20ft of the front. These semi-truck blind spots are known as “No-Zones”. When passing, try to pass as safely and as quickly as you can, and refrain from passing on the truck’s left side. This side has a bigger blind spot.   

Both motorcycle riders and truck drivers must practice extra caution while sharing the road. Semi-truck accidents that involve motorbikes have a high chance of ending in serious damage or death.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Online shopping increases truck traffic

The rapid growth in online shopping has caused a rise in trucks on our roads that are not delivering to shopping centres but right to our suburban front door.

This presents a major increase in congestion, but also danger for riders who easily disappear in truck blind spots.

Trucks reversed image lane filtering blind spot online shopping
All the bikes in this photo are in a truck’s blind spots

Trucks also present problems for riders from tyre blowouts as this video shows.

While the number of truck crashes is low on the statistics, when they crash they can cause multiple deaths and injuries.

Trucks were responsible for 169 deaths from 152 fatal crashes in Australia in the 12 months up to September 2018. 

In the USA, truck crashes kill more than 4000 people each year, including about 500 motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians.

Fashion to blame

The online fashion industry is one of the biggest causes of this increase in truck traffic.

Almost a third of all clothes are now bought online and about 40% are returned when they don’t fit or after the buyer has taken an Instagram selfie!

And that’s just the fashion industry. A lot of other products are now bought online rather than from shopping centres.

Fashion Revolution of Belgium has warned fashion shoppers of the hidden dangers and costs of this increase in online trucking of goods with this video.

It shows women trying on clothes on highways, surrounded by trucks and traffic.

Count the costs

The costs of this online fashion business is not only an increase in traffic congestion, but also road danger and CO2 emissions output.

In 2016, transportation (including air travel) overtook power plants as the top producer of carbon dioxide emissions for the first time since 1979.

A quarter of this comes from trucks doing house deliveries after they have been transported by plane or ship to a warehouse.

Before online shopping, trucks mainly delivered to warehouses and shopping centres.Extend truck lane restriction

Now most packages go directly to a residential address.

Shoppers have traded trips to the shops in relatively fuel-efficient vehicles for deliveries to suburban homes by trucks and other heavy vehicles.

What to do

We are not suggesting you stop online shopping. It’s convenient and cheap. 

In fact, we have several motorcycle products available through our online shop that are difficult or to find in shops or are not stocked in Australia.

However, you can help reduce truck traffic by ensuring you do your research first so that you don’t have to return articles that don’t fit or are not suitable.

You can also buy several articles at a time from the same distributor to try to avoid multiple trips and packages.

However, I recently bought four barbecue items from the same distributor and they arrived over two separate deliveries in four different packages!

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Danger in lane filtering around trucks

Lane filtering around trucks can be dangerous simply because riders can be invisible to the truck driver, even if you are right in front!

The Goldwing World Facebook page published the above photograph claiming all the bikes in the photo are in the truck’s blind spots.

It has been shared on many occasions. But notice that one of the positions where riders cannot be seen is right in front of the truck.

I have witnessed riders filter to the front of a line of traffic and then move across to sit in the lane in front of a prime mover.

The truck driver could be totally unaware of the presence of the rider.

So if the rider stalls when the lights turn green, what’s stopping the driver from running over the top of you if you happen to stall?

Or if the rider is distracted and misses the change of lights and the truckie is keen to get going … splat!

Lane filtering rulesHow to ride safely in heavy traffic lane filtering happiest commuters commuting plan trucks

Despite the dangers of trucks to lane filtering riders, only the ACT prohibits lane filtering next to buses and trucks.

There is no mention in the official lane filtering rules for Queensland, NSW, SA, Victoria or Tasmania.

However, they all suggest in their explanatory notes riders “should avoid” filtering next to buses and heavy vehicles.

It should also be noted that an overriding rule is that riders must lane filter only “when safe to do so” (or similar words).

This is mentioned in Victoria, SA, ACT, Queensland and Tasmania, but not NSW,

It not only puts the onus on the rider to act responsibly and safely, but also provides police with some latitude to fine riders based on their judgement.

Onus on trucks

While riders should always take responsibility for their own safety, there is also an onus on truck drivers and other motorists to share the road with all vehicles, including motorcycles.

London has taken it further, banning trucks (lorries) over 3.5 tonnes that do not have special extended mirrors to reduce blind spots.

Drivers with a non-complaint vehicle face a £50 Fixed Penalty Notice and potential fine of £1000 in the Magistrates Court.

Similar legislation would be most welcome here in Australia.

RACQ safety officer and Suzuki Bandit fan Steve Spalding says blind spots around large vehicles are “a very risky situation for riders”.

“If there are ways to improve the types of mirrors fitted, or have better placement of existing ones, then we’d like to see heavy vehicle operators make those changes,” he says.

“Riders have to be aware of their vulnerability at all times but particularly when in congested traffic and around large and heavy vehicles because it can be difficult for truck drivers to cover all the blind spots.”

However, the truck mirror legislation would not have helped the London rider in this video which has gone viral. He was in front of the driver!

More blind spots

One of the big problems with riding near trucks, buses and other big vehicles is that their blind sports are not the same.

Fixed vehicles such as vans and buses/coaches have different blind spots to B doubles or prime movers with trailers. There are also extra blind spots for trucks with hoods (eg Mack) rather than cab-over trucks (eg Hino) with flat fronts.

We spoke with several bus and truck drivers and they say they don’t have a lot of problems with riders, but agree that there is potential for riders to get lost in blind spots.

For fixed vehicles, the worst blind spot is close on the inside (left in RHD countries and right for LHD countries) of the vehicle. Most heavy vehicles have blind-spot mirrors, but fast-accelerating bikes can zoom into view so quickly on a slow-moving vehicle, the driver may not have had a chance to see them.

Prime movers also have the problem that when they turn, their mirrors, which are fixed to the prime mover, show only a view of the trailer on one side and a wide view on the other, creating a massive blind spot area.

For trucks with a big bonnet, almost every near position from the mirrors forward is a blind spot, especially by the inside fender.

Drivers say riders can slip into the gap in front of a truck without them seeing the bike, which could result in a rear-ender as they approach a red traffic light.

They also claim that when the lights turn green, a gap opens up in front of slow-moving trucks and riders tend to slip into that gap where they may not be seen.

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Wide berth

Motorcycles need to give trucks a wide berth on all angles in all traffic situations.

And don’t hope that your loud exhaust will alert the truck driver to your presence.

Most truck cabins are loud because the driver is sitting over the engine and is probably playing music or their CB radio over the top.

They will not hear you until you have passed them.

Sucked in

Bus and truck drivers also warn about the aerodynamic effects of following and riding too close to their vehicles.

Vehicles such as buses and some trailers with carriages low to the ground tend to create a vacuum at highway speeds that can suck a light bike toward them and potentially under their wheels.

Other trailers can push riders away into oncoming traffic. Some trailers, such as those carrying vehicles, create so much turbulence it can send a light bike into a tank slapper.

The effect is worse if the rider follows too closely before overtaking as they cop a sudden blast as they draw up alongside.

Oakey truckie Brad Shannon advises: “If you can see our mirrors we should be able to see you. But I always look twice, anyway.”

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Truckie Brad Shannon

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com