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Hey SC, I was riding around on the loaner today and the thought crossed my mind, how do truck drivers prefer motorcycles conduct themselves around the trucks at freeway speeds??

I always try to give a huge arm signal at the same time as my electronic signal if crossing in front of a truck and always try to give plenty of space before making any changes.

Now as for coming up on a truck and trying to pass, I never quite know 1. when the truck sees me in his mirrors 2. if he can see me better when I'm on the side of the truck passing if I'm in the furthest portion of the lane away from the truck or if I'm in the portion of the lane closest to the truck.

Also, I always try to let the car ahead of me get up and clear the truck with enough space before I attempt a pass so that I can make a quick pass in my lane without spending too much time next to the truck, good idea? or does it take the driver by surprise to have a bike zooming past?

Never really knew since I've never really known any truck drivers, so it'd be great to know so that I can be at least a little more courteous to the big ass trucks on the road (I'm guessing that bike vs truck isn't too pretty :p)

edit: changed the title to make it clearer that this is general interest - MM
 

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Re: Question to Shadowchaser re: big rigs and motorcycles

hiero said:
Hey SC, I was riding around on the loaner today and the thought crossed my mind, how do truck drivers prefer motorcycles conduct themselves around the trucks at freeway speeds??

I always try to give a huge arm signal at the same time as my electronic signal if crossing in front of a truck and always try to give plenty of space before making any changes.

Now as for coming up on a truck and trying to pass, I never quite know 1. when the truck sees me in his mirrors 2. if he can see me better when I'm on the side of the truck passing if I'm in the furthest portion of the lane away from the truck or if I'm in the portion of the lane closest to the truck. ;)

Also, I always try to let the car ahead of me get up and clear the truck with enough space before I attempt a pass so that I can make a quick pass in my lane without spending too much time next to the truck, good idea? or does it take the driver by surprise to have a bike zooming past?

Never really knew since I've never really known any truck drivers, so it'd be great to know so that I can be at least a little more courteous to the big ass trucks on the road (I'm guessing that bike vs truck isn't too pretty :p)
Ciao hiero, Glad you asked, a driver can get to be a nervous wreck trying to stay off of all the four wheelers/cagers let alone mix in some lane splitting bikes and you've got a handful. :p

The best advice I can give you about changing lanes in front of a Semi would be to allow LOTS of room between you and the truck you are pulling in front of. (At least one truck length) The biggest Concern we have is following distances.

When someone car or bike cuts into our safety margin/safe following distance you are putting your life at great risk!

It takes roughly 10 times the room to slow down a Semi with 80,000lbs of payload than the average car, and that's optimum. If the Driver is fatigued, or not paying extremely close attention you can double the distance. Allow additional room on steep down grades (6 percent or more grades.) The rate at which you change lanes is really irrelevant, but the distance between you and the truck is Absolutely Necessary! Your life and others on the road depends on it! ;)

As far as coming up on a truck to pass it, remember unless you can see our mirrors clearly we cannot see you! Always pass on the Left side, Never on the Right (Our Blind Side). We have a saying in trucking that some have even posted signs on their trailer doors "Left side passing side. Right Side SUICIDE!"

By far the best method, and I use it when on the bike myself, and have had it used on me while in the truck, is that the cyclist wanting to pass will approach the truck in the passing lane (Left side of the truck.) but back about two car lengths from the rear of the trailer.

Stay in the center of your lane PACE the truck, and briefly flash your high beams off and on to catch our attention. Watch the trucks turn signals too make sure he doesn't miss understand your intentions as welcoming him over into your lane. This will usually happen if there is something Impeeding the flow of traffic in the right lane.

If there are no signals then pass the truck as rapidly and safely as possible.

Do not ride beside the truck, or follow a four wheeler while passing as this puts you in a very dangerous position if the cager dawdles or hangs out next to the truck.

Right now a large majority of trucks run re-capped tires because it is much cheaper and currently legal to use them. Any one who has seen a recap turn loose on a truck can vouch for just how dangerous these d**n things are! They can easily blow up with out any warning what so ever! They explode like a grenade and some times the whole tread of the tire comes off in one piece! :eek: Until someone can get these things outlawed they are a potential killer concerning motorcycles. :mad:

DO NOT RIDE CLOSE BEHIND OR ALONG SIDE ANY SEMI! Allow enough room between you and the truck you are following to be able to see and avoid a tire failure if it happens. This will also save your ass if the truck runs over something in the road.

If you are following to closely to react then you can almost guarantee you will hit what ever comes shooting out from under the Semi. :eek:

Allot of Truckers are Motorcyclists also, and the last thing we want to do is to kill a fellow biker whether by sheer accident, or because the rider was ignorant to what kind of danger they were placing themselves into. :'(

Here are a few facts that may well save your life by making you aware of them:

According to a recent survey by the Owner Operators Association: In 90 percent of the Company owned Over the road trucks on the road today. The drivers have LESS than ONE YEAR'S EXPERIENCE in a Semi. :eek:

One of the leading vocational training programs for newly released/reformed ::) convicts is Truck Driving. :mad:

75 percent of the Trucks on the road legally run RE-CAPPED TIRES. :mad:

The average pay for a rookie company driver is less than 30k annually, figuring that most companies pay by the mile it isn't hard to imagine what the rookies are forced to do in order to survive financially. The hours of service regulations while now much stricter are still laughable in that they are easily falsified.

Very Scary stuff indeed!

In my own small war I did manage to convince my current employer not to use re-capped tires anymore! [clap] [clap] [clap] ;)

Be very careful of your surroundings out there guys and gals, ESPECIALLY AROUND SEMI TRUCKS.

Steve aka:"SHADOWCHASER" ;)
 

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Re: Question to Shadowchaser re: big rigs and motorcycles

ShadowChaser I must applaud you! [clap] [clap] [clap]

This is one of the most informative writeups about an vastly unknow topic. I have never really know how to react to trucks whether I am in a cage or on my bike. THANK YOU.

I used to just follow the WOT in a bike/cage anytime I got near a truck to pass it as quick as posible, but I would much rather be able to let the Trucker know that I am there.

Thanks! [clap] [clap] [clap]
 

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Re: Question to Shadowchaser re: big rigs and motorcycles

awesome, knew I asked the right guy the right questions [thumbsup]

Thanks!
 

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Re: Question to Shadowchaser re: big rigs and motorcycles

This is a thoughtful and informative post! Thanks to Shadowchaser.

Perhaps this should be a sticky or in a FAQ somewhere?
 

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Re: Question to Shadowchaser re: big rigs and motorcycles

SC:

Well done!

I run a ten wheeler and agree with the whole thing! Though I am not as long as you blind spots and re-capped tires are very dangerous to cars and bikes!

Got DUc
 

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Re: Question to Shadowchaser re: big rigs and motorcycles

great writeup, thanks for the time you spent on it...

regarding tire explosions (or whatever you want to call them) I saw one a couple of years ago and that scared the $hit out of me and I was still about 200 yards away but stuff still landed on my car
 

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Re: Question to Shadowchaser re: big rigs and motorcycles

Great questions and answers guys. [thumbsup]
 

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Re: Question to Shadowchaser re: big rigs and motorcycles

Good stuff! [thumbsup]

When I read it yesterday I thought "mostly pretty basic, but worth repeating; hell I've always done that stuff (except for the light flashing)."

Then riding in to work today I realized that while I don't linger by semis on open highway, I've gotten more lax in heavy rush hour traffic. And here in the Boston area, that can still be 80 mph ;D so tire blowouts remain a risk. So today I sat back and refrained from passing the rigs until I could get clear in front of them.

Shows to go ya, even when you think you know stuff, without keeping fresh, it's easy to drift into bad habits.

Thanks for the refresher Shadowchaser and thanks Hiero for posing the question [clap]
 

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Re: Question to Shadowchaser re: big rigs and motorcycles

Excellet info. It's all stuff we mostly 'know' but it never hurts to reenforce it and also hearing it from a truckers perspective helps focus the issue.

I'm going to say +1 to the sticky idea for this info.
 

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Really good info, I used to pass in my car all the time in the left lane. I knew it was wrong but never thought about it. Thank you for the heads up.
 

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Re: Question to Shadowchaser re: big rigs and motorcycles

DesmosDromos said:
This is a thoughtful and informative post! Thanks to Shadowchaser.

Perhaps this should be a sticky or in a FAQ somewhere?
Just added it to the riding FAQ. [thumbsup]
 

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Re: Question to Shadowchaser re: big rigs and motorcycles

SHADOWCHASER said:
As far as coming up on a truck to pass it,  remember unless you can see our mirrors clearly we cannot see you!  Always pass on the Left side, Never on the Right (Our Blind Side).  We have a saying in trucking that some have even posted signs on their trailer doors "Left side passing side.  Right Side SUICIDE!"
That was good advice. Thanks

SHADOWCHASER said:
Stay in the center of your lane PACE the truck, and briefly flash your high beams off and on to catch our attention.
Perhaps this is too but I wonder why a trucker shouldnt have to check their mirrors like everyone else. While it wont matter if your dead I believe he burden is on them to operate their machine safely. They do have big honkin mirrors.

One of my riding buddues is a long time state trooper. He gave me a recomendation on trucks:
Beware of anything carrying smashed cars, logs and livestock.
He saw more accidents with this type of cargo which he attributed to 1. The cargo and 2. These drivers arent the "creme of the crop"

I dont know aboot number 2 but I'd rather haul a nice trailer full of tampons then a load of cows or some smashed oily cars [laugh]
 

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surly said:
That was good advice. Thanks

Perhaps this is too but I wonder why a trucker shouldn't have to check their mirrors like everyone else. While it wont matter if your dead I believe he burden is on them to operate their machine safely. They do have big honkin mirrors.

One of my riding buddies is a long time state trooper. He gave me a recommendation on trucks:Beware of anything carrying smashed cars, logs and livestock.
He saw more accidents with this type of cargo which he attributed to 1. The cargo and 2. These drivers aren't the "creme of the crop"

I don't know about number 2 but I'd rather haul a nice trailer full of tampons then a load of cows or some smashed oily cars [laugh]
Surly, the following post IS NOT aimed directly at you. So please don't take offence to it. Your post did however spark my need to respond in general as a fellow rider and Comercial Driver.............. ;)


____________________________________________________________________________________________________________


It is true that Commercial Drivers are ultimately responsible for their actions and /or deficiencies of their actions, but when you are dealing with a vehicle that will most certainly cost you your life in an altercation, doesn't it make more sense to try to make yourself seen to the point of redundancy, rather than playing craps with your life and assuming that you are seen and the driver knows your intentions? ??? Mighty big gamble and no room for "Murphy" IMO! :eek:


While a truck's mirrors are MUCH larger than a cars..........The mirror size in comparison to the over all size of the vehicle and the lack of any other type of rearward visibility is VERY small. With much larger blind spots that the mirrors themselves cannot cover.

Imagine having to drive your car or ride your bike utilizing ONLY your mirrors. Not being able to turn your head, or even use your peripheral vision. Add to that the vibration of a Semi makes the objects in the mirrors very fuzzy and blurry. (Much like most motorcycle mirrors.) :p Also the glare from sunlight, or at night someones high beams in our mirrors makes them totally useless. Rain, Sleet, Snow, and the resulting road spray also have the same effect. :(

Don't forget that unlike cars and bikes, trucks cannot accelerate as quickly/decelerate as quickly, and require much more clear space laterally to make a safe lane change. We get held up like any one else, but it is much harder to find a gap large enough to make our lane changes. Top it off with the fact that most vehicles TOTALLY IGNORE our turn signals which is the only way we have to warn others that we need or even HAVE to change lanes.

[Rant]

I wish I had a dime for every time I had turned on my turn signals, only to have a vehicle that had been traveling a steady speed and far enough back to allow a change, see the signal and proceed to gun/floor the accelerator and try to get past the truck before the truck could complete its SAFE lane change! :eek: Very Stupid, and Very Dangerous! :mad:

I don't understand the mentality behind anyone who would risk theirs and their passenger's lives by playing chicken with, or trying to bluff a Truck or Train! :mad:

(Operating ANY vehicle on a public thoroughfare is a PRIVILIDGE granted by the State. It is NOT nor has it ever been our God given RIGHT.)

[/Rant]

Objects as small as the frontal profile of a bike can easily become lost or overlooked amongst the various other moving objects within the mirrors viewing area. If you are riding on the outer edges of your lane, you are at the outer most edges of the viewing area. (More likely to be missed or overlooked. :'( )

If you rapidly approach a truck from the rear in the same lane, and then suddenly change lanes and pass the truck. You have essentially just blind sided us. You won't have even given us the chance to see you. You have no idea if we might have to change lanes right at that point out of necessity or even possibly an EMERGENCY situation, as you won't be able to see past or around the truck itself.

By staying in the center of your lane and briefly PACING the truck from two car lengths back you give the driver the best chance of being able to see you. By flashing you high beams briefly you call further attention to yourself as well as giving notice of your intentions. [thumbsup]

As a driver myself I can tell you that we are constantly scanning our mirrors as well as traffic, road conditions, and wildlife from 1 mile ahead to directly in-front of the truck. Driving well ahead of yourself as well as predicting the movement of traffic even before the individuals start to react, is a very LARGE part of operating a vehicle of this size safely and efficiently.

I have been driving over the road for just over 20 yrs (Training other drivers for the last 10yrs) in all weather and traffic conditions, over all of the continental United States, and lower Canada. In that time I have proudly racked up over 2.5 MILLION miles of safe driving! No accidents (preventable or non-preventable) PERIOD! So it would be fair to say I have a very strong grasp of what it takes to drive and/or ride safely on any of the roads that this Country has to offer.

I REGULARLY see the ignorance of the average motorists on the road today, and allot of times witness the whole event, as well as the resulting carnage.

The road is an uncontrolled environment to put it lightly. Anything we can do as Drivers and/or Motorcyclists that can increase the safety to ourselves, as well as the others we are forced to share the roads with, that can make it just a little bit safer out there will pay its dividends in the preservation of human lives.

Allot of States have the "Share the Road" signs out in reference to motorcycles. IMO Share the Road Means just that, and pertains to all vehicles motorized or not regardless of the amount of wheels it may have. ;)
 

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being new to street/road riding, i thouroughly appreciate your post! very informative and the information you presented is not in some of the books i have read. not sure if they will go over it in the MSF course or not, but i will make sure to share the information with anyone interested. thanks again! ;D
 

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my best advice (since i also happen to operate big rigs) is to stay at least one lane away, if possible of course, flash your beams in their mirror so they realize your there, and dont cut in between two of them unless you wanna play pinball at 80 mph.
 

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I was talking to a friend of mine who is a long distance lorry driver. He says generally most lorry drivers would prefer to share the roads with bikers than car drivers. He says bikers tend to be more observant and considerate on the road, that and they dont get in the way [laugh]

When I ride I allways hang back behind a truck and offset to the drivers side so that I can see the driver in his morrior, theory is that if you cant see him then he cant see you, and thats dangerous! I allways give lorrys plenty room when over taking and dont cut infront of them once im past them, I allways leave around 2 to 3 car lengths, depending on speed of course.

Iv seen several people overtake lorrys on the opposite side to the driver... thats not smart. The lorry driver cant really see you all that well in that mirror.

If you are approaching some traffic lights that are red and there is a lorry stopped at the lights in the center lane (of 2, one by the center line) what side do you overtake on in order to filter through? I was told by my lorry driver friend that I should overtake on the side where the drivers door is. That makes it easier for him to see you. If you are parrallel to the driver BUT on the opposite side to the driver he might not be able to see you in his mirror. So when filtering through traffic I allways do it on the side of where the driver is.
 

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Great post SC - I just wanted to make a few comments about commercial truck tires because I work FOR a retread manufacturer (it's all we do) and I work WITH many trucking/transportation companies. Commercial tire explosions are absolutely deadly - not just to other motorists, but to technicians who work on truck tires as well. However, maintenance plays a FAR greater role in whether a tire blows than whether it's original or retreaded.

Some of the largest, best maintained fleets in the world successfully run their maintenance program and retreads - even on the steer tires (UPS uses them on all of the their package vans). Most commercial jetliners run retreads on their landing gear. School buses run retreads for drive tires. However, I could give you a list of companies that I would be nervous to pass even with brand new radials on their trucks because I know from firsthand inspection that their maintenance practices are not the same as most.

Retreading is not only safe when used in a responsible maintenance program, but it's smart for consumers and the environment. Holding a CDL, I'm sure you've seen the old "if it's in the store it came by truck" type campaigns? Well, when you have 18, or more, wheel positions a reduction of $150 per wheel position also saves on transportation costs, which saves the shipper, which in turn allows good old capitalism to allow them to be more competitive (read: cheaper products).

Also, one new commercial truck tire (11R22.5 for example) takes 26 gallons of oil to manufacture. Retreading a quality worn original takes 7 gallons - a savings of 152 gallons of oil per set of drive tires. Retread manufactures also recycle all of the old tread removed during the retread process and it is used for things like playground fill, floor mats and asphalt filler.

Anyway, we get a bad rap in the retreading industry because a lot of companies either don't maintain their tires properly (inflation mostly) or try to retread casings that should not be retreaded. Personally, one way I see to reduce the amount of debris on the road is to mandate quality standards for trade trucks (trucks that are traded in by large fleets for new trucks). These vehicles usually have tires on them that are sub-standard to save money and are re-sold with these same tires.

Well, sorry for getting on a soapbox, but I'd be glad to answer any questions. I know it's frustrating - trust me I hear the stories and I've seen the explosions.

Spare
 

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ChrisR1982Edin said:
I was talking to a friend of mine who is a long distance lorry driver. He says generally most lorry drivers would prefer to share the roads with bikers than car drivers. He says bikers tend to be more observant and considerate on the road, that and they don't get in the way [laugh]

When I ride I always hang back behind a truck and offset to the drivers side so that I can see the driver in his mirror, theory is that if you cant see him then he cant see you, and that's dangerous! I always give lorrys plenty room when over taking and don't cut in front of them once I'm past them, I always leave around 2 to 3 car lengths, depending on speed of course.

Iv seen several people overtake lorrys on the opposite side to the driver... that's not smart. The lorry driver cant really see you all that well in that mirror.

If you are approaching some traffic lights that are red and there is a lorry stopped at the lights in the center lane (of 2, one by the center line) what side do you overtake on in order to filter through? I was told by my lorry driver friend that I should overtake on the side where the drivers door is. That makes it easier for him to see you. If you are parallel to the driver BUT on the opposite side to the driver he might not be able to see you in his mirror. So when filtering through traffic I always do it on the side of where the driver is.
Ciao Chris, and thank you for your valid input to the thread. [thumbsup]

Yes I too would rather share the road with most motorcyclist also. As a whole most bikers pay more attention to operating their vehicles as well as their surroundings. Although as with autos and some truck drivers, there are exceptions to the rule. Every group unfortunately has their share of "Meatballs, Squids, and Jerks" that give no thought what so ever about anyone's safety let alone their own. :p

The blind spot directly opposite the drivers door all the way to the front of the tractor, as well as back to apx. the rear tandem on the tractor is as your friend so accurately warned, is one of the most dangerous spots.

Mirrors cannot adequately cover this area, and the line of sight from the drivers seat is obstructed by the door, hood and fender of the truck itself.

Hanging out in this area or even passing through it slowly can put you in danger of being missed by the driver, and subsequently run over, or off the road.

While in the states we drive on the right side of the road, and drive from the left side of the vehicle. So the blind spot you are speaking of is directly along the right side of the tractor. In the UK and other countries where the road position, and drivers position are reversed then it would be on the left side of the tractor. ;)

Your friend gave you good sound advise by telling you to pass on the drivers side of the truck/lorry. Just keep the differences in mind as you travel to different countries where the road position and drivers positions are the opposite. [thumbsup]

As far as over taking a Truck/Lorry in the center lane at a light, I agree with your friend. Try to pass on the drivers side. However keep in mind that the longer the Truck/Lorry the more "Off Track" for the trailers tires has to be allowed for by the driver when making corners.

Pay extreemely close attention to the signals on the Truck/Lorry, as some times the corners are so square and the available space to turn into forces the longer Trucks/Lorrys to set up very wide for their corners. Sometimes even a whole lane! :eek:

You don't want to get caught between the trailer and the corner it the truck is turning because the trailers tandems will run right over the top of you. In the US this happens on right turns. In the UK and countries where it is opposite, it occurs on left turns. Please keep this in mind in that scenario.

Thanks again for your imput. It is valid and very much appreciated. [clap]
 
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