Safety tips from Mercedes-Benz SA: everything you need to know about trucks
Road carnage becomes a focal point each year around Easter when a time of festivity turns into one of pain and sorrow for some people instead. This situation can easily be avoided if road users arm themselves with some basic information before taking to the roads.
Top tips from motor manufacturer, Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA), could help you survive a potentially life-threatening situation this year. The company takes its responsibility to road users seriously, for example, by running driver training for customers who purchase from their extensive range of trucks. The Defensive Driving courses offered to owners of FUSO and Freightliner brands makes their truck drivers safer on the roads.
MBSA is a leader in truck safety innovations, dedicating resources to finding new ways to make their trucks, and therefore road users, safer. The entire range of trucks from the commercial vehicles stable all have the latest active safety systems (helping to avoid accidents) and passive safety systems (helping to lessen the effect of accidents). The majority of active systems aim to counter-act driver error by triggering compensating mechanisms. In trucks such as the FUSO and Freightliner, the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) is standard; making them easier to manoeuvre if emergency braking is engaged.
Coming across a truck on your travels this Easter is inevitable. Often drivers of passenger cars do irresponsible things when faced with a slow moving truck in front of them. Statistics show that up to 70% of all truck-related fatalities are caused by car drivers.
What should you be aware of when driving close to a truck?
Have patience: You have two choices - be patient, or run the risk of becoming a patient or statistic yourself! Trucks in the extra-heavy segment often carry a load of up to 56 tonnes - that makes them 50 times bigger than your car. Can you imagine how much longer it takes to bring that much weight to a stop if you should get in the way?
Trucks have blind spots: Directly behind them and on both sides, truck drivers can often not see a car. Unlike most of the trucks in the Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles stable, not all trucks have blind spot mirrors. These drivers cannot see you if you are 10m or less from the back of the truck trailer. So please avoid tailgating! If driving alongside or overtaking a truck, do so quickly to get out of the side blind spot. If you can't see the truck driver in his mirrors he can't see you.
Overtake only when safe: Give yourself enough time to overtake - the longer the truck, the longer time you need. Wait until the road ahead is clear; many a life has been lost misjudging the speed of an oncoming car when overtaking a truck. Don't make the same mistake!
Slipping in will get you in trouble: A truck cannot stop quickly - so don't cut in front of the truck too soon after overtaking it.
Be extra cautious in bad weather: On wet roads, be extra careful as both your car and the truck are less stable. Be aware of the spray that comes off of a truck during wet weather - put on your windscreen wipers before overtaking or driving close to a truck.
Don't drive too close: At a stop or traffic light, the truck might roll backward when getting started again. Be aware of this and leave some space between your car and the truck. Accelerating from standstill is a slower process for trucks than for cars (the Freightliner truck for example has 18 gears to get through). Trucks may also kick up stones off the road, so watch out!
Night driving; stay alert: The size of a truck is not always apparent at night, so look carefully and adjust your speed. Avoid the glare of an oncoming truck's headlights by watching the side of the road then look quickly ahead to check the trucks position. Keep doing this until you have passed the truck.
Give a truck that is executing a turn some space: Trucks take more than one lane of space to turn, and have to swing wider to negotiate a turn. Watch for the driver's indicator, and give him some space.
Look out for jack-knifing: Be aware that trucks can jack-knife or roll over. Be prepared to take evasive action if this should happen.
Accidents involving trucks are always more severe in terms of injury, loss of life as well as damages due to the sheer size of the truck and the load it carries. Don't become a statistic this Easter, take care of yourself and your passengers.