Why Semi-Truck Turning Is So Hard

For trucks, turning can be one of the hardest things you can do. Why? Read on and find out.

If a truck wants to u-turn (180 degrees) for example, a truck park must allow for a minimum turn path, a truck of 18 wheels needs about 20’ to turn, the rear wheels follow a shorter path than the front wheels.

Because a truck cannot make a turn in a small radius, they need to swing wide, meaning they must start the turn in the second lane to the left. There is an increased risk of a tip over or roll over if a truck tries to turn in too small a radius.

During any turn there is an increased risk of accident, and if there are only two lanes, trucks should avoid turning left. A truck may collide with a vehicle heading toward it from the front or there may be a right turn squeeze play accident from a vehicle trying to turn alongside it.

Squeeze-play Accidents

Squeeze-play accidents can happen in two ways. First because the trailer turns tighter than the cab and cars tend to assume they are safe if the cab isn’t going to hit them. However, the rear tires on the trailer can strike and even climb over a small car that is overtaken on the inside of a turn. It’s never a good idea to attempt a turn at the same time as a truck even when there are two turn lanes.

The second type of squeeze-play happens when drivers are lured into it. Because trucks need to swing right in order to turn left the truck gives the illusion it is turning right. Car drivers see the left blinker on, but assume the driver really meant to go right.

Trucks also have a larger blind spot than cars which means if they put their left turn signal on a car may feel safe pulling up next to it on the right. When the truck driver turns right to begin his left turn any cars in the way would be crushed, generally at the roof but it can be squeezed against a barrier.

How to Turn a Truck:

If you’re driving the truck, it is important to use signals when turning. It’s important to use windows and mirrors to check what is happening and do not move too quickly. It’s vital that you not put yourself in a position to have to back up the vehicle in the middle of an intersection.

To enter into a right turn, ensure that you have enough space from the curb and do not swing into the far-right lane. Conversely, if a truck makes a left turn it needs to first move right.

Different truck turns can be performed in different gears, right turns should be done in third gear, while left can be done in fourth gear. If it is a big right-hand corner with a turning lane (also known as a slip lane) it may be done in fifth gear. A slower vehicle turns more sharply.

Turn signals need to be up-to-date, mirrors should be correct for the size of the vehicle. The driver needs an adequate level of experience, qualifications and training. Unfamiliarity, such as a new route and different conditions may change things. Or the driver could be distracted which includes being tired.

This is just a simple guide, and it should be noted that you need a considerable amount of training to drive a truck, fortunately for other users of the road!

Avoiding Accidents:

It is vital not to overtake a turning truck.

If you’re driving a vehicle near a truck, to prevent accidents always stay away from a truck’s blind spots, especially if it is an 18-wheel truck. Only pass one when there is a great deal of room and do not pass on the right. Should a truck be indicating, give it a wide berth.

Car drivers shouldn’t think of a truck operating like a regular vehicle and just be more patient.

11% of all crash deaths in 2019 involved trucks but 74% of them involved a large trailer, while 24% involved single unit trucks. It is vital as a car driver to stay a safe distance and only pass when there is a great deal of room, especially if it is indicating.

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