Particularly for newer drivers, driving around large commercial vehicles may be intimidating. Understanding the functional differences between regular passenger vehicles and larger commercial ones is paramount.
Understanding how to drive safely and share the road with large vehicles can save lives. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, you should always pass commercial vehicles on the left and you should be aware they require much more space to stop or maneuver.
Why does passing on the left matter?
Generally speaking, passing on the left is good driving hygiene no matter how large the other vehicles around you are. However, passing on the left is especially important if you are trying to maneuver around a large truck or bus.
This is due to the size of the blind spots that surround commercial vehicles. The blind spots are bigger all around a commercial vehicle as compared to a regular car; however, the blind spot on the right side of a commercial vehicle takes up two entire lanes of traffic. Comparatively, the blind spot on the left side of a commercial vehicle is smaller so it is safer to pass here.
How much space should I give when I merge?
Again, it is smart to give other motorists as much room as possible no matter how large their vehicle is. However, due to the greater mass of larger commercial vehicles giving them more space is vital. Typically, it is a good idea to start your merge when you are no more than 30 feet away from the commercial vehicle and re-merge after giving roughly 20 feet of headroom.