Many point to bus and truck drivers as tailgating culprits. However, it can be dangerous when four-wheeled vehicles do not drive cautiously around these commercial vehicles.
As California's roadways grow busier each year, navigating the traffic in a commercial or four-wheeled vehicle around such large vehicles can be daunting. The risks are especially high when passenger cars or commercial vehicles exhibit aggressive behaviors such as tailgating or cutting in too soon after overtaking.
Huge Trucks & Buses Have Blind Spots
Every vehicle has blind spots, but for commercial vehicles like big trucks and buses, these blind spots are considerably larger.
A significant portion of the area around a truck or bus is not visible to the driver, particularly directly behind and along the sides close to the vehicle. When a car or other small vehicle moves into these blind spots, it becomes 'invisible' to the commercial driver, drastically increasing the risk of a collision.
Cutting in Too Soon Can Have Ugly Consequences
A common mistake made by four-wheeled vehicle drivers, particularly in heavy traffic, is cutting in too soon after overtaking a commercial vehicle.
Pulling in too soon, particularly on downhill grades, could mean the driver cannot respond appropriately to your actions. This can result in catastrophic rear-end collisions, often with severe consequences due to the size and weight of commercial vehicles.
Even when this action doesn’t lead to an accident, commercial vehicles are usually blamed for following too close and ticketed. This “serious offense” for commercial drivers can lead to a 60-day driver disqualification. Give them a break, and leave enough space after overtaking one of these vehicles.
Stopping Distances for 80,000-Pound Trucks
Imagine a fully loaded semi-truck weighing approximately 80,000 pounds. It takes this colossal vehicle about 200 yards—the length of two football fields—to stop when traveling at highway speeds.
That's nearly twice the distance required for a typical passenger vehicle. Following too closely, or tailgating, gives commercial drivers insufficient time and distance to stop safely if the vehicle in front of them suddenly brakes.
Following Too Closely Is a DOT FMCSA Serious Offense That Can Lead to Driver Disqualification
The Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (DOT FMCSA) categorizes 'following too closely' as a serious offense.
Commercial drivers who are convicted of this offense face stiff penalties. A single conviction can lead to fines and points against their Commercial Driver's License (CDL), while a second conviction within three years of the first will result in a 60-day disqualification of their CDL.
This significant penalty can impact a commercial driver's livelihood and likely lead to their termination.
Follow the Rules of the Road & the FMCSA Safety Guidelines
The best way to avoid the dangers associated with aggressive driving around commercial vehicles and the hefty penalty for violations is simply to follow the rules of the road and the FMCSA safety guidelines.
Maintain a safe distance from commercial vehicles, refrain from cutting in too soon after overtaking, and remember that commercial vehicles have larger blind spots and need more distance to stop safely.
For commercial drivers, adhering to these guidelines ensures your safety and that of others on the road and protects your career. Be particularly mindful of maintaining adequate following distance, given the hefty penalties associated with the offense of following too closely. Safe driving is a responsibility we all share. Let's work together to keep California's roads safe.
In conclusion, the safety of our roads in California relies on each driver's individual actions. Whether you're a commercial vehicle driver or a passenger car driver, it's crucial to understand the unique challenges that large vehicles present.
Being mindful of the blind spots, the extended stopping distances, and the potential for severe consequences of cutting in too soon can not only save lives but also protect the livelihoods of commercial drivers.
However, when cited for following too closely, always consult a CA traffic attorney.
In Truckee, CA, Consult with Bigger & Harman, APC, About Your Ticket for Following Too Closely
Bigger & Harman are traffic ticket defense attorneys who routinely assist commercial drivers with traffic tickets in Truckee Traffic Court in Nevada County, CA.
Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook.
The FMCSA CFR 49 Part 383.51, Driver Disqualifications.