Save More Gas by Safely Following Trucks

by Xin Lu on 14 April 2008 46 comments
Photo: Reflect Back

Since reading Lynn's article on saving gas by driving slower I have been trying to apply the tip to my daily commute.  The problem is that these crazy Northern California highways are not very friendly to slow drivers. What I have been doing is driving behind big trucks in the slow lane so that I do not get honked at or pulled over by the highway patrol.  Apparently driving behind big trucks also saves you gas due to something called drafting, and you can safely take advantage of this to save an additional 5 to 10% of your gas.

The science behind drafting is closely related to why driving slower saves energy.  Basically, you have less air resistance in front of your car if a big truck has already passed through the air and your car is in the tunnel or "slipstream"  behind it.  A truck also blocks some of the air rushing at you. On the popular Discovery Channel show Mythbusters it was shown that if you follow a big rig by 100 feet  you can decrease your fuel consumption by 11%.  The daredevils went a bit further with the experiment and followed a truck at only 10 feet and managed to decrease fuel consumption by 40%.

As the MythBusters crew said, it is extremely dangerous to drive too close to a giant truck because the truck driver might not see you, and you may also be pulled over for tailgating.  A safe follow distance at 55 miles per hour is about  160 feet to 240 feet since your car is travelling at approximately 80 feet per second and you want two to three seconds of reaction time to hit the brakes.  If you are travelling faster you need to give yourself even more space.  I definitely do not recommend dangerous driving behavior just for the sake of saving a bit of gas, but if you are driving slowly on a highway full of speed demons, safely following after a truck could save you gas and harassment.  

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Guest's picture
marylandterps

I would rather spend a bit more for gas and drive safely. When you are behind a big truck your field of vision is blocked and that is very dangerous. 3 seconds or 240ft behind a truck is not enough of a space cushion to prevent a crash.

AAA says "at highway speeds, a 2- to 3-second following distance will not give you enough time to stop if the road ahead is suddenly blocked. At 55 miles per hour, you would need at least 4 to 5 seconds to stop the vehicle to avoid something in your path of travel. Therefore, your position in traffic should be based on availability of escape routes."

AAA further says "If your vision is blocked by a large vehicle such as a SUV, van or truck, increase your following distance to 4 seconds. This extra distance will give you better visibility."

"Drivers must learn to look at least 20 to 30 seconds ahead. At highway speeds of 50 to 65 miles per hour, the 20- to 30-second visual lead time translates to one-third to one-half mile," says AAA.

Be safe on the roads!

Guest's picture
Luke

I remember a discussion about this a long time ago, late 70's I think. The idea was a little scary: if you drove a VW Bug, and got really close behind a big rig, the draft would literally pull you along. Then you could drop into neutral and just coast the whole way. At least, that's how the story went...

Of course it's practically suicidal - you'd have to be within a dozen feet or less for it to work, with no gears engaged.

I've sometimes wondered if driving *next* to a truck, maybe next and a little behind, would have a similar effect. It would be irritating as hell to the truck driver, but at least not quite so dangerous.

Guest's picture
Robert

What are recommending it extremely bad advice. The safety hazard is not nearly worth saving a few bucks on gas.

My older brother who has been driving 18-wheelers across the United States and locally for 10-15 years has always told me to stay as far away from trucks as possible! After witnessing fatal accidents caused by trucks, a tire blow out (not on his truck luckily) landing through the windshield of a Jeep Grand Cherokee (was fatal), and numerous other bad truck accidents, he always tells everyone to say the h#ll away from them--only bad things can happen.

-Robert

Guest's picture
Luke

I should have underscored that point. While people tried this I'm sure, and I was *wondering* about driving next to a truck, I'd NEVER do it, nor suggest anyone else do it either. Truck accidents aside (and that's not trivial), just the reduced visibility is very dangerous. Then there's the stress of trying to be just the right distance while staying super-alert the whole time... Not worth it by a long shot.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

Well, if you read the whole article you will see that I said I don't recommend dangerous driving habits for saving gas. However if you can drive safely behind a larger vehicle that happens to block some of the draft, then it is fine.

Driving is dangerous in general, and if you are trying to drive slowly sometimes there is no choice but to drive behind a truck.   

Guest's picture
Christopher Smith

Note: I have not done any research on this specific question, but I am a physicist.

If you've ever seen a wind-tunnel test, you'll have seen the long tail formed by a car or airplane. Alongside, however, the airstream is turbulent, meaning that swirls and eddies spin off and can dramatically increase air resistance. The amount of turbulence is determined primarily by the "roughness" or irregularity of the object moving through the air (or water), and so a truck would very probably cause a lot of turbulence.

In short: I expect that driving alongside a truck would increase air resistance and thus worsen fuel economy.

Guest's picture
mramige

Mythbusters covered this a few seasons ago. They came to the conclusion that although driving a few inches behind a truck saves some gas, any more than that is useless. Driving that close is also very dangerous and not worth the benefits.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

mramige, did you read the section of my article with the link to MythBusters results? They certainly didn't follow a truck at a few inches. In fact they found that the gas savings was 11% at 100 feet, and I restate here, 100 feet is not a safe following distance. 

Guest's picture
mramige

I fail at skimming

Guest's picture
Guest

This is an interesting article. Being behind a truck would cause you to drive slower (usually) or at least keep you mostly to the slow lane, thus saving you money. And if you are very careful about the distance that you are from the truck, it could in theory provide more savings for your fuel usage.

BUT there is another risk that hasn't yet been mentioned... the fact that all trucks (especially large ones, even with mudflaps) kick up rocks at your car... that leads to dents, rust spots and sometimes cracked windshields. I've driven enough years in California on major highways to know that even in a lane next to a big rig can be a prime spot to be "hit". So that cost risk would have to be included in any "savings" you'll get from gas.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

yup that's true. The rocks are annoying. My husband's windshield got cracked by one of those rocks. (He doesn't follow trucks to save gas. It was just an accident.) I do change lanes when there are rocks flying at me, but it never happens when I am 200 feet behind a grocery store truck. Most of the time it is the trucks that are carrying gravel or dirt that cause flying rocks. 

Guest's picture
Guest

My husband and I drove from the UP in Mi to FL averaging 55 mph and trying to drive behind trucks -- although not to close and at a safe distance -- and we made the whole trip for $180! We have a Subaru that gets 28mpg in highway and the trip is about 1,600 miles -- we were very pleased and relaxed too since we weren't rushing to get anywhere! Just be safe.

Guest's picture
El Cheapo

I keep as far away from trucks as possible on California roads. Fortunately, most of my travel is on roads with 3-4 lanes so I have little interaction with big rigs. In a few short years that I've lived in SoCal, I've seen first-hand numerous items fly off of trucks (ie. tires, oranges, rocks, boxes, etc.) and seen my share of accidents involving larger big rigs and passenger cars. Its not pretty.

There might very well be a safe distance to follow a truck and save some money on gas. But like other supposed tips I've read about (ie. shedding a full size spare, buying cheap tires or brakes, not regularly maintaing your car, etc.) it doesn't seem like the risk, however small, is worth the reward. Especially for cities like LA where we are virtually married to our cars.

Guest's picture
Zannie

I can understand driving behind a truck to combat lead-foot, and to avoid arousing the ire of other drivers, but to be safe you'd have to be pretty far back. If you're far enough back that the truck itself is not a danger to you, other drivers might start getting irritated with your speed because they can't necessarily pass you and the truck at once. Best to hang back far enough that they can pass you one at a time if you're going to try this tactic on a two lane highway or other situation where passing is difficult, but then they've got to make two maneuvers, so I'm not sure you've gained anything with regard to not pissing people off.

In the photo on this post, the perspective of the camera shows that the following vehicle is too close. If you can't see the truck's mirrors, the truck driver almost certainly can't see you--and from that close, you can't see much of anything ahead of the truck. Likewise, driving beside a truck puts you right in the driver's blind spot and blocks your own vision of the other side of the truck.

As a motorcyclist, I do everything I can to keep as much distance as possible between myself and large vehicles, and there's no way in hell I'd let one block my vision like that. Riding near a truck makes it hard to see and hard to be seen. Add in the dangers of the truck itself, like tire blow outs or insecure loads, and they've got red flags all over them. I even avoid passing them without at least one lane between me and the truck if I can avoid it, and always pass as quickly as possible so as not to be stuck next to it.

Guest's picture
IO

I think the entry here covered the fact that following too close is not safe. I was worried when I first saw the title, but you really covered your thinking about why it would be a trade off that any adult responsible enough to be reading a personal finance blog can interpret as a bad deal. The threat to health is too high to allow for this idea to be truly feasible. You have provided information from both sides and I applaud your efforts. I'm disappointed to see some of the other comments discouraging your information because I doubt they read the whole entry before becoming offended.

Guest's picture
Leo

Please don't listen to this, driving behind trucks is a horrendous idea, and in fact probably the least safe spot on the freeway.
1) tires can come flying at you if the truck has a blowout
2) you will be driving in the right most lane, and people will continually be merging in front and behind you (to exit and enter the freeway)

Please don't do this, fine you want to save money and not go fast, drive in the center lane at your desired speed, it is fairly easy to pass people that don't move and don't do anything unpredictable.

Linsey Knerl's picture

Xin Lu is asking anyone to use trucks as a means of saving gas.  I think she is simply letting people know of a good way go a little slower than the average driver without causing a traffic situation (or getting flipped the bird.)  As a general rule, the truckers I know are very good at what they do.  Following them from a safe distance (i.e. driving in the same lane as them, not tailgating) has many benefits.  They generally know the road, and other drivers are less likely to cut in front of you to get behind a truck.  In my city, if you leave a safe driving distance between you and the car in front of you, it is perceived as permission for another car to cut in and secure the space (which is very dangerous.)  Trucks own the road here, so I think of them as the older brother of the highways.  Works for me.

Guest's picture
Ryan

A few years ago I got stuck behind a truck going through town. I quietly cursed my luck and fumed at the driver for going 3 miles in a 40-45 mph zone at 32 mph the whole way.

It was only as he accelerated out of town that it dawned on me that he'd gone 32 mph the entire way. He had driven on a busy road, at 6pm, through 8 traffic lights and never once touched his brakes! He knew what the best speed was to reach all the lights when they were green and after all the waiting cars were out of his way.

To this day it remains one of the most impressive driving accomplishments I have ever personally witnessed.

THAT is how you can save gas: no by following right behind a truck, but by following its lead. The driver's profit may depend on maximizing his mileage, so why not learn from his experience?

Guest's picture
Ben

To me, I somehow feel saver following a big truck, not only because it does not break as frequently as some of the smaller cars, but also the fact that I can always stop faster than it does so I feel more relexing following it.

Linsey Knerl's picture

BINGO!  I couldn't have said it better....

Guest's picture
Chris

Drafting causes an increase in fuel usage on the lead vehicle. Seems kinda jerky to do as these guys need to drive for a living and fuels costs hurt them the most, especially the independent truckers. Not cool. If you want to drive right at the speed limit, just stick to the right lane, no worries.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drafting_%28racing%29

Guest's picture
Guest

You go off about how drafting causes increased energy usage by the truck, but then article you cite to back up your claim states the opposite:

"Drafting or slipstreaming is a technique where two vehicles or other moving objects are caused to align in a close group reducing the overall effect of drag due to exploiting the lead object's slipstream. Especially when high speeds are involved, as in motor racing and cycling, drafting can significantly reduce the paceline's average energy expenditure required to maintain a certain speed and can also slightly reduce the energy expenditure of the lead vehicle or object."

Guest's picture
Matt

Not to mention the obvious safety hazard of following a truck closely, it's worth mentioning that you'll be braking a lot more frequently than if you were coasting along at the speed limit in the faster lane, which might defeat the purpose of saving money.

In my view it's not worth it unless the highway is congested already.

Guest's picture
Amy

I personally hate being behind trucks... or even beside them for that matter. Even with their huge mirrors, they can't always see you (I'm willing to argue that they can't see you the majority of the time).

When I was younger my family was behind a semi-truck transporting steel coils (huge ones). One of the giant steel coils came loose and rolled off the back of the truck--thankfully nobody got hurt (this wasn't on a highway and we weren't following closely so we could stop in time).

The huge dent that the steel coil put in the pavement was enough to make me leery of EVER being behind semi trucks.

Guest's picture

I never thought about drafting behind a truck to save on gasoline. But like everyone else has commented, it is too dangerous to do.

Everytime we drive, we are taking a risk. Last thing I want to do is add to the possibility of an accident happening.

Guest's picture
Anna

While you are saving money on drafting behind a big rig, the driver of that big rig has to stop much sooner to buy fuel, and gee, did I mention that the big rigs bring food to the grocery stores and fuel to the gas stations, and you wonder why everything is more expensive?
Just don't do it; I have 3 brothers that are truck drivers, and have heard horror stories of accidents that would make your blood stop flowing, not to mention you are being totally rude and must have a death wish if you tailgate a big rig.

Guest's picture
Guest

Get off your high horses.

Rush hour in any city makes it completely impossible to follow at a "safe distance". No matter how hard you try, someone will always cut you off and take away the safe distance between you and the car (or truck) in front of you.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

That's true. People are pretty aggressive drivers here so I get cut off a lot. Some of them do it quite illegally too. For example, they were already in the exit lane and almost exited and then cut me off by going back to the highway.  The key is just to be a careful driver yourself.

Guest's picture
LizLovely

I totally agree with Linsey and Ryan. I live in Seattle and I have to commute through about an hour of traffic and the stop and go always seems to stress me out. Over the past few months, I've learned that following (yes, a safe distance) a truck's lead not only saves gas but also lessens the overall stress level when commuting to school. Trucks to me do seem like wise big brothers because they, like Ryan previously mentioned, seem to find a happy medium when it comes to speed to avoid all of the hectic stop and go mess. Great article! I was surprised to find a great amount of negative comments.

Guest's picture
Guest

What kind of idiot is going to follow a semi-truck at about 5 car lengths and not get antzy about it? It seems to me, at best, suicidal... let alone, illegal. Talk to a truck driver at a truck stop and see what information they have for you. How about the fact that some of the worst accidents involving trucks are the ones where cars are not following at a safe distance, or do not take into consideration the difficulties that truck drivers endure just having to share the road with these fools. I beg to disagree, the best way to save gas is not to drive.. If you must drive, do so intelligently using other fuel-saving measures, like slowing-down....
How would this person like a civil law-suit on their hands because they are recommending that prople follow at a unsafe distance? I, as well as my family, don't think this strategy is worth the price of a life. Especially if the life is someone elses and you have to live with that responsibility.
Choose your words and recommendations VERY carefully, my friend.... There WILL be people that will follow these instructions.... I just hope I never see them.

Guest's picture
Guest

What kind of idiot is going to follow a semi-truck at about 5 car lengths and not get antzy about it? It seems to me, at best, suicidal... let alone, illegal. Talk to a truck driver at a truck stop and see what information they have for you. How about the fact that some of the worst accidents involving trucks are the ones where cars are not following at a safe distance, or do not take into consideration the difficulties that truck drivers endure just having to share the road with these fools. I beg to disagree, the best way to save gas is not to drive.. If you must drive, do so intelligently using other fuel-saving measures, like slowing-down....
How would this person like a civil law-suit on their hands because they are recommending that prople follow at a unsafe distance? I, as well as my family, don't think this strategy is worth the price of a life. Especially if the life is someone elses and you have to live with that responsibility.
Choose your words and recommendations VERY carefully, my friend.... There WILL be people that will follow these instructions.... I just hope I never see them.

Guest's picture
Guest

What kind of idiot is going to follow a semi-truck at about 5 car lengths and not get antzy about it? It seems to me, at best, suicidal... let alone, illegal. Talk to a truck driver at a truck stop and see what information they have for you. How about the fact that some of the worst accidents involving trucks are the ones where cars are not following at a safe distance, or do not take into consideration the difficulties that truck drivers endure just having to share the road with these fools. I beg to disagree, the best way to save gas is not to drive.. If you must drive, do so intelligently using other fuel-saving measures, like slowing-down....
How would this person like a civil law-suit on their hands because they are recommending that prople follow at a unsafe distance? I, as well as my family, don't think this strategy is worth the price of a life. Especially if the life is someone elses and you have to live with that responsibility.
Choose your words and recommendations VERY carefully, my friend.... There WILL be people that will follow these instructions.... I just hope I never see them.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

um..where do I recommend that you follow at an unsafe distance? I also said it is extremely dangerous to follow too closely and you could get pulled over.  It's funny that you felt you had to post your comment three times and show that you  never read the entire article.

Guest's picture
Nadine Wheeler

Please, DO NOT follow so closely behind a big rig that you're 'drafting' to save gas. My husband is a professional truck driver and still has nightmares about the wife and small child who were decapitated by a truck tire blow-out. The tire blew, came off the truck, and the driver of the car following way too close behind the truck has to live with the fact that his stupidity cost the lives of his wife and child.
Being beside a big rig is also extremely foolish, to put it mildly. There are much larger blind spots for a truck than for cars, and when you're beside one, chances are you're in a blind spot without knowing it.
I prefer to follow a truck myself, because I'm behind a professional driver - but I always stay at least five slowly-counted seconds behind. I watch to be sure I can see the driver's face in his/her mirror, and I also keep an eye on the truck's signals.
Truckers do bring at least 70% of everything we need to our markets and shops - please give them lots of room and not ulcers by following too close!

Guest's picture
J Allan

It seems a lot of people are only reading what they want to read (I'll admit I read the header wrong at first too, until I thoroughly examined the article), but Xin is not advocating that you jeopardize your life by directly driving behind a semi. Sure automotive accidents may happen from trucks, but there's an even greater number of risks from driving alongside drunks, street racers, sleep-deprived/cellphone engaged people.

Take from this article and some of the comments what you will. I live around the Los Angeles area wherein people are always in a hurry and thus our glorious traffic jams. I've noticed on occasion on highways, the left-most lanes will be dramatically slow but the entry/Truck lane is constantly moving. Ironic how those lanes are supposed to be for faster moving traffic. We all want to be in constant moving traffic as opposed to stop-n-go traffic, but remember as everyone before me has mentioned, keep a safe distance while driving.

Guest's picture
Nadine Wheeler

Didn't mean to sound like I was faulting Xin in any way - she had a very well-balanced article and did her research. My fear was that some reader (like the one who posted three times) would skim the article, figure it was advocating a dangerous pratice when it wasn't - and then try to blame someone else if they got into trouble.

Guest's picture
Guest

This "Apparently driving behind big trucks also saves you gas due to something called drafting, and you can safely take advantage of this to save an additional 5 to 10% of your gas." is a complete guess and completely wrong. To get any sort of efficiency you would have to be TOO CLOSE. 100 feet is not enough. You going off and GUESSING 5-10% efficiency is wrong. No, you cannot draft at a safe distance.

This is an astoundingly disappointing article. The only decent point (drive behind slower trucks to keep yourself at a slow speed) was barely touched on, then there's focus on drafting for three paragraphs. You cannot draft at a safe distance. At a safe distance you are out of any drafting efficiency.

Guest's picture
Guest

Driving behind trucks? Wow, this is even better than drinking water to prevent cancer, especially if you are behind a Mexican truck with no brakes, wheels that come off, and stuff that flies out the back of the truck. Oh, and you get to breath in the diesel exhaust. But don't worry, just drink extra water.

Guest's picture
Guest

I understand everyone's comments regarding safety concerns.

Even at a safe distance, I've been the victim of having trucks pick-up stones and loose debris on the road. Last year alone I had to repair my windshield 3 times. The year before that I had to replace the windshield.

Guest's picture
Guest

This is a bunch of cr@p! IF saving fuel only worked on those big scary trucks then why do race car drivers DRAFT? It's not to save fuel (although it does save fuel) but to go faster. The first vehicle breaks a path through the air-the second has less resistance to get through it-it's not hard to figure out. And it's only dangerous if the first driver is either A: an @sshole who will hit their brakes just to get insurance money, or B: a moron who doesn't pay attention to whats going on ahead and would have to slam on their brakes causing a wreck. If you're not comfortable driving so close to someone that you cant drive looking at the road ahead through THEIR windshield, GET OFF THE ROAD!

Guest's picture
juan

Here is an angry person with too much speed, road rage in the making!

Guest's picture
Guest

This is the dumbest personal finance advice I've ever come across.

I'd rather skip my latte.

Guest's picture
Guest

First of all, the speed limit needs to be reduced and enforced. This in itself will save lives. It actually can be very pleasant driving at or under the speed limit. People are in such as rush just to save 5 minutes. I experimented on a little trip this weekend. I used my cruise control when possible, did not accelerate needlessly, and stayed at 60 mph. And, no, I was not the only one going 60 in the slow lane. There were others. Bottom line, even with the AC on in my 2006 Toyota Corolla, I went 163 miles on 3.67 gallons = 44.6 mpg. What do you think of that???

Guest's picture
juan

At what speed or rpm is considered best for gas saving while driving our freeways. I us cruise controll when possible and try to set it at around 60(sometimes up to 64 - I know I'm breaking the law when the limit is 60). I drive a Saturn Vue and am passed by many long haul truckers.

Guest's picture
Smoovious

I drive a flatbed 18-wheeler...

The vehicles we fear most on the road, are you 4-wheelers... especially you soccer-moms in your SUV's, talking on your cell phone, and feeling invincible.

In the winter time, whenever the roads get too slippery, without fail, the kinds of vehicles we see spun off the road the most, early on, are the SUV's... we'll see probably a dozen of them, before we start seeing other vehicles get taken out as conditions get worse...

Anyways, just a mini-rant there.

You all need to understand... we're not the unsafe drivers on the road... we go through several weeks of training, before we even climb into a rig and spend several more weeks of road-training with a trainer before we're let loose by ourselves...

Any idiot can get a license for a 4-wheeler, with 75% or 80% on the test, which is usually only 20 questions.

These idiots will do just about any stupid thing you can think of on the road.

One recently, as I moved into the left lane to pass a slower truck, a white SUV (>sighs<) was racing up in the right lane to try and get through before I caught up with the slower truck, and just didn't make it and had to slam on his brakes when he ran out of space between us just as he got up to us... once I finished my pass and moved right again (only after the passed truck, signalled to me that he was cool with the space he had in front of him), the idiot in the white SUV raced past, flipping me off as he did, like I was the idiot.

If you spent time watching the trucks on the road, especially when they interact with each other, you'll start to notice that there is a lot of communication happening with each other. A lot of it is over the radio, sure. We usually know of an accident, a closed lane, a blown tire in the road, even a 4-wheeler changing a tire on the shoulder, miles in advance before we get there. (we also know of the idiot drivers coming up behind us, miles before you get to us... you know who you are.)

The radio communication is only about 1/4 of the communication happening tho.

Most of the non-verbal communication is in the light-codes we use with each other. We tell each other when they can come back in after completing their pass, thanking each other for what the other driver did earlier, if they have a problem with their securement and should pull over, if they are cutting in too close, and even if we're about to make an evasive maneuver for something we see in the road ahead, if it is a tire carcass, chair, or dead deer in the road, or emergency vehicles or broke down vehicles on the shoulder.

We know what to expect from each other, and we know, the other big-rig drivers know what to expect from us.

Even something as subtle, on a 2-lane highway, as the truck in front, moving in his lane, a foot to the right, can signal to the truck behind, that the road ahead is clear for him to make a pass, while, if we're hugging the left side of the lane, he sees an oncoming vehicle, or something else making the pass unsafe. He's basically letting you see past him, or blocking your view. We'll do the same thing for 4-wheelers behind us. Some of us will also flash our running lights on and off after the last oncoming vehicles comes by to signal the road is now clear, and make your move. Not all drivers do this signal tho.

We also, have larger stopping distances. I mention this, for the 4-wheelers that have a habit of pulling in front of a truck, with the 'safe' distance that would be ok if it was a 4-wheeler.

Big rigs, take a MINIMUM length of a football field to come to a complete stop from 55mph, on level ground, with perfect road conditions, and a heavy load which makes their brakes work most efficiently. This isn't a nice stop. This is an emergency stop. One that has a good chance of dislodging the load. Even more so if the load is coils or bundles of pipe.

Running past the truck just to jump in front of him to try and make that ramp you're about to miss, scares the hell out of truck drivers, as the 4-wheeler doing this maneuver, usually slams on their brakes as soon as they're in front of us, to make the ramp. When this happens, I'm simultaneously slamming on my brakes (which take at least a second to activate... air-brakes aren't as responsive as hydraulic brakes), and hitting my hi-beams, signalling TOO CLOSE!!!

The particular event I have in mind, I couldn't even see the back of her... yes... another SUV... I only knew she was on her brakes when the middle light at the top came on, and if she hadn't darted out of my way onto the ramp when she did, she'd be getting cut out of her SUV a while later.

If we're empty, it takes us longer to stop. Seriously.

Our brakes are most efficient with a heavy load. That's what they're designed for. When we're empty, it doesn't take much for us to lock our brakes up, and lose our stopping power, jacknife, fishtail the trailer, or even roll over.

Ok, I went off on a few tangents, I'm sorry, but I was inspired for a few minutes.

Back on topic... :)

When I find a 4-wheeler tailgating me, my response is simple.

Every few seconds, I tap on my cruise control, dropping my speed by 1mph every 10 seconds or so, until the drafter gives up and goes around.

A 4-wheeler getting on my good side? If I'm passing one, and when I'm ahead of him and ready to move in front of him, if he flashes his headlights at me (on and off, not high-beam to low-beam... high-beams mean danger, remember?), that simple act of road-frendliness tells me he's a driver that gives a damn about his driving, and respects the other vehicles on the road. Even the particular needs us big-rigs have. That 4-wheeler will earn our appreciation, and even a little bit of our respect, for driving like a professional. And, we may just acknowledge that, and say so, by giving him our flashing running-light code back at him, in thanks.

-- Smoovious
(currently at a truck stop in Salinas, CA)

Guest's picture
Spoon

I agree with many of the comments made by Smoovious. There are an extremely large group of idiots that drive on our roads, and its that some areas there are considerably more than others. But, I must say that not all of these folks drive 4 wheelers, I run into an irrationally large number of semi truck and commercial drivers that seem to hold the same idiot tendencies. Example: 4 lane interstate (2 each way) guy in the truck decides to pass another trucker on an uphill grade, blocking both lanes of traffic and taking 2-3 miles to pass-- if you cant pass in a reasonable amount of time then don't even try. And then there's the trucker that thinks his big rig should run just as fast down the road as all the other idiots driving 80 mph with only a small pacing distance off a car in front. So although many truckers may be very professional, there are a lot of idiots in your ranks too. Albeit, probably not as many since they are required to uphold some additional degree of training.