Auto Bits: Tips for sharing the road with big rigs

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Tip of the Week

While millions of drivers will be motoring toward fun, the nation's big rig truck drivers will be all business on the roads - keeping cargo moving and ensuring the products we all depend upon make their way to their destinations.

Statistically, big rigs are involved in just 2.4 percent of all vehicle accidents, according to Regular vehicle drivers can do a lot to help ensure truck accident statistics stay low by following some safety rules for sharing the road with big rigs.  Robb Mariani, host of Speed's original series "American Trucker," offers this advice:

- Be aware of the distance a big truck needs to stop. "At 55 mph, a big rig needs the length of a football field to stop," Mariani says. "Wet roads and bad weather extend that stopping distance even longer." Never cut in front of a big truck and then hit the brakes; the driver may not be able to avoid a collision.

- If you're behind a big truck and you can't see the truck's mirrors, it means the driver can't see you. Avoid traveling in the truck's blind spots - which are much bigger than the blind spots in a regular vehicle.

- Courtesy counts, especially when on the road with a big truck. If a trucker driver is signaling to merge into your lane, it's courteous - and safer - to slow down and let him in.

- As long as you're not following too closely, behind a big truck may be the safest place to be when you have to be near one on the road. If a truck is going too slow, make sure you pass safely, giving the truck plenty of room. If you're traveling on a three-lane highway, instead of passing a truck in the right lane, move all the way to the left lane to pass - but only when it's safe to do so.

- At an intersection, be aware that a turning truck may have to swing wide to make the turn. A truck has to travel farther into an intersection before initiating a turn than a passenger vehicle would need to. Give the truck plenty of room and never pass a turning truck on the inside (turning) side.


The List

According to, here are five ways you waste money on your car:

1. Changing oil every 3,000 miles.

2. Using premium fuel unnecessarily.

3. Failing to change your air filter.

4. Failing to check the brake pads.

5. Buying mileage-boosting additives and devices.

Did You Know

China is doing a “cash for clunkers” program to help spur auto sales. The country recently announced it would pay up to $2,800 for farm vehicles, heavy trucks and buses.

Car Q&A

Q: I recently bought a 2011 Hyundai Elantra and was never told that the car did not have a spare tire or doughnut or anything like it. Instead of a tire, there is a kit-type setup of a pump and something like a sealant. When I bought the car the salesman failed to mention this unique circumstance. Is there a company where I can purchase a wheel/tire?

A: You are not alone with not having a spare tire in the truck or under a minivan. As for the salesman not telling you about not having a spare tire, I personally think it was an oversight. Three of my cars do not have a spare tire, just the tire repair kit. Check to make sure a full size tire will fit in the spare tire well area before you buy a spare tire. I would go online to for a spare tire and wheel.

- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist

GateHouse News Service