How to Drive With Badly Maintained Trucks


Recently, there was a serious crash in Mpumalanga involving a truck.  As many motorists plan to head to holiday destinations in the coming weeks, it is important for motorists to do what they can to not endanger themselves or the truck drivers when sharing the roads with them. Initial reports, however, suggested a lack of maintenance was partially to blame for the Mpumalanga crash. What can you as a driver do if companies are not maintaining their trucks?

The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says there are many things you can do to reduce the risk you face when sharing the road with trucks in need of maintenance. “The key, is to be aware. Look at the trucks around you and the condition they appear to be in. Every time you spot a truck that appears to be a bit derelict, drive with even more caution than you normally would.

“Do not linger around these trucks. If moving away from them requires you to overtake, ensure you have plenty of space and time to do this. Never take a risk when overtaking a truck that appears to be neglected. Avoid overtaking the truck on a downhill as this is where their brakes are most likely to fail. Follow these tips, as well as your instincts, to reduce your risk on the road. Rather arrive 30 minutes late than not at all,” says Herbert.

 It is important for car drivers to also be aware that the challenges truck drivers face are very different to theirs. “The weight and size of a truck as well as the different loads means they need more time to get going, stop or slow down. Below are some additional tips on how to share the road safely and courteously with truck drivers these holidays:

  • Leave large spaces between your car and the truck. This will help you avoid one of their many and much larger blind spots. The blind spots are in front or close to their bumper, close behind the truck as well as in certain spots beside the truck.
  • If you can see the driver in the side mirror, they can see you.
  • Never pull directly in front of a truck or in a small gap between a truck and another vehicle. A medium-sized truck can take 40% longer to stop than a car.
  • When overtaking, do not just check if there is a gap but check the length of the truck before you go. Also give yourself more than enough time so if the truck is longer than expected you have extra time.
  • Pay extra caution to trucks carrying abnormal loads.
  • If a truck is in the left lane in a double turning lane, do not drive next to it. Once they make the turn, this space closes up. The driver left that space for a reason.
  • During rain, leave extra space around the truck as their off spray is larger. They will also take longer to stop.
  • When travelling in front of a truck, signal early or avoid making sudden turns as they need longer to stop.
  • Never stop in the emergency lanes for trucks. These lanes are there for trucks whose brakes have failed going downhill and you endanger everyone by doing this.
  • Do not pressurise a truck to drive in a yellow lane so you can pass. They can see more than what you can in that position and will not move over if it is dangerous or illegal to do so.
  • Be aware that driving on hilly roads is especially challenging for truck drivers. Do not pass a truck on an incline or cut in front of them on the decline.

Follow these tips so that everyone can arrive at their destination safely. It will also reduce some of the pressure that truck drivers face on the roads during this very busy time of year.