Throttle Therapy: Co-existing with trucks on the road

Some tips on sharing the road with truckers, an unavoidable reality. Seeing things through their eyes can be a great eye-opener.

This is where you should never ride when you are around a truck. The no-zone is the area the trucker cannot see.

This is where you should never ride when you are around a truck. The no-zone is the area the trucker cannot see.

There are a lot of other vehicles insisting they share the road with motorcyclists. Some received training just once, as young adults, when they first received their regular drivers licence. Other, like professional drivers, have necessarily had additional training.

Until the time comes when just motorcyclists are on the road (I know, I know, that will never happen), it’s up to the vulnerable participant in traffic to be more imaginative than the rest.

That means you, the biker, have to think twice. Once for riding your own machine, and again for knowing what other types of vehicles bring to the road.

Consider trucks. As a rider, it is incumbent on you to know that trucks have many blind spots, or “no zone” in which the trucker cannot see you (see diagram).

That’s just one of several things you need to know about sharing the roads with trucks.

Here are just a few tips for riders who have to share the road with truckers.

Trucks stopping.

Trucks cannot stop on a dime.

What this boils down to is that if you need to do an emergency stop when there is a truck following you, you need to be ready to go again in an instant. If you have the option, it may be best to choose an emergency swerve instead of an emergency stop. And as a biker, it is your responsibility to know — at all times — what is in front, beside and behind you.

If you are riding behind a truck, realize that sometimes (like bikers) trucks use “engine brakes” to slow down. This means that they gear down. They may or may not apply the brakes and activate the brake lights. Gauge a truck’s speed by it’s expanding or diminishing the distance from you.

Trucks starting

If you are behind a truck at a stop, you must come to terms with the true fact that trucks cannot start in an instant. This is a good time to practice patience.

If you are in front of a truck at a stop, you need to realize there is a possibility that you are in the trucker’s blind spot. This is a horrid place to be, potentially deadly. At all times when stopped at an intersection, your bike should be in first gear. This is especially true when you are in front of a truck. You MUST be in gear, and ready to go. (That should be a forever rule anyway. Never idle in neutral in the middle of traffic.)

Truck turns

In order for a long truck to turn, it must position the cab on the opposite side of the intended direction. So, in order to turn right, the trucker positions the vehicle to the far left of the lane (and sometimes crosses into the neighbouring left lane) in order to turn right.

Stay well back when you see a truck getting ready to turn. Do not attempt to pass it. You might be impatient with its lumbering speed, but it’s better to be patient and alive than to be impatient and dead.

Phantom trucker turns

This is the hardest one to contend with, because the obvious clue (the 18-wheeler truck) is missing. A good secondary suggestion might be the size of the pickup truck, or the height of its tires. Regardless, the driver of this phantom 18-wheeler will still drift into the left lane in order to execute a right hand turn. Your safest bet here is to drop back, and wait for their whatever to be fully executed.

Wind gusts

I remember being fiercely frightened of the gust of wind from passing trucks, because some fool once scared me with a mythical notion of a truck’s dangerous wind tunnel. You can get sucked in there, I was told. Then, it dawned on me: if that were true, there would be a wake of dead animals in the trail of any passing truck. Considering the weight of a bike and its rider, the likelihood of being sucked into the draft of an oncoming truck is, well, nil. Just treat it like any other wind gust, position yourself in the middle of the lane, and stay strong. Prayer is not necessary.

Bottom line, it’s never a good idea to be in a hurry on roads that are shared with truckers. Or phantom truck drivers.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

The application proposing to rezone Western Speedway was passed by Langford’s planning, zoning and affordable housing committee Feb 8. A petition has since been started by residents of Trudie Terrace, hoping to stop the proposed residential portion of the development plan. (CBRE Victoria)
Petition opposing Western Speedway development proposal gains steam

Save Thetis Heights Neighborhood petition aims to stop extension of Trudie Terrace

The City of Victoria filed a petition with the Supreme Court of B.C. March 2 to have it clarify whether, under the Trustee Act, Beacon Hill Park can be used for temporary sheltering. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria asks court to clarify if Beacon Hill Park can be used for sheltering

City of Victoria filed petition to Supreme Court of B.C. March 2

Boma Brown won the Emerging Leader Award for her work founding the Support Network for Indigenous Women and Women of Colour. (Courtesy of Boma Brown)
Victoria SNIWWOC founder up for national women’s award for volunteer efforts

Victoria’s Boma Brown is a semi-finalist in the running for the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth award

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

.
LETTER: Anti-semitism definition lacking

Re: We must identify anti-Semitism and combat it (Online, Feb. 26) I… Continue reading

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

Most Read