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How not to get run over by a truck!

Truck overtake

The Goldwing World Facebook page published the photograph below warning about all the blind spots around a truck. Allegedly all the bikes in the photo are in blind spots.

Goldwing Facebook page warning photo

The photo is a timely reminder of the dangers of riding around trucks in traffic, but it both under-estimates and oversimplifies the issue.

Not all trucks, buses and other big vehicles are the same. Fixed vehicles such as vans and buses/coaches have different blind spots to B doubles or prime movers with trailers. There are also extra blind spots for trucks with hoods (eg Mack) rather than cab-over trucks (eg Hino) with flat fronts.

I spoke with several bus and truck drivers and they say they don’t have a lot of problems with riders, but agree that there is potential for riders to get lost in blind spots.

For fixed vehicles, the worst blind spot is close on the inside (left in RHD countries and right for LHD countries) of the vehicle. Most heavy vehicles have blind-spot mirrors, but fast-accelerating bikes can zoom into view so quickly on a slow-moving vehicle, the driver may not have had a chance to see them.

Prime movers also have the problem that when they turn, their mirrors, which are fixed to the prime mover, show only a view of the trailer on one side and a wide view on the other, creating a massive blind spot area.

truckFor trucks like Mack with a big bonnet, almost everywhere from the mirrors forward is a blind spot, especially by the inside fender. Drivers say riders can slip into the gap in front of a truck without them seeing the bike, which could result in a rear-ender as they approach a red traffic light.

They also claim that when the lights turn green, a gap opens up in front of slow-moving trucks and riders tend to slip into that gap where they may not be seen.

Bus and truck drivers also warn about the aerodynamic effects of following and riding too close to their vehicles.

Vehicles such as buses and some trailers with carriages low to the ground tend to create a vacuum at highway speeds that can suck a light bike toward them and potentially under their wheels.

Truckie Brad Shannon

Other trailers can push riders away into oncoming traffic. Some trailers, such as those carrying vehicles, create so much turbulence it can send a light bike into a tank slapper.

The effect is worse if the rider follows too closely before overtaking as they cop a sudden blast as they draw up alongside.

The final word of warning comes from Oakey truckie Brad Shannon: “If you can see our mirrors we should be able to see you. But I always look twice, anyway.”