How motorcycles can safely overtake trucks

Truck overtake

Passing long trucks can be easy for motorcycles with their rapid rate of acceleration, but there are several dangers you can encounter when you overtake a truck.

Here are our four safety tips for passing a truck.

1 Beware the blind spots

 

Truck
Goldwing Facebook page warning photo

When passing a truck, you need to be aware that they have a lot of blind spots that can swallow a small motorcycle.

The Goldwing World Facebook page published the photograph above warning of the extent of these blind spots claiming that all the bikes in the photo are in the truck’s blind spots.

Note that the photo is American, so the positions are reversed for left-hand-drive countries.

Remember, 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.

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.

For 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.

2 Overtake quickly

Motorcycles accelerate quickly so passing a truck can only take a couple of seconds.

Despite it being illegal to speed, I always overtake quickly to spend as little time beside the truck as possible.

The above video was recorded in 2016 on the Logan Motorway in Brisbane, but it could happen anywhere.

Just look at the amount of truck tyre debris on our roads. Any one of those tyre blowouts could easily have claimed the life of a rider.

When passing a truck, it’s probably better to risk a speeding fine and ride by quickly than to sit alongside, or if a truck decides to overtake you on a multi-lane road, either speed up or slow down.

Also, take a wide berth by moving into the furthest wheel track of the adjacent lane.

Be aware that the rear trailer on a road train can suddenly wag sideways by a couple of metres.

Road safety crash accident motorcycle overtake
Way too close!

3 Prepare for the blast

Trucks have a lot of wind resistance creating “dirty air” or turbulence that can unsettle a small motorcycle at highway speed.

The worst are not the closed-in trailers, but open trailers such as car carriers and livestock trailers. (Another tip: Don’t follow livestock trailers too closely unless you want to be showered in sh*t!)

Closed-in trailers tend to create “still air” as you pass, then you suddenly get hit by a blast of wind.

So be prepared as you pass, lean forward, hold on tight and power through.

Lane position automated vehicles tailgater blowout
Riders steer clear of trucks

4 Don’t cut in

Don’t cut into the truck’s lane as soon as you pass.

For a start they may not see you and drive right over the top of you at the next set of traffic lights.

Also, if you have to brake suddenly, the truck will have a lot less stopping power than you and will simply drive straight over the top of your motorcycle.

5 Show courtesy

They are bigger than you and they deserve respect.

Also, if you show a little courtesy, truckies will show some back. Many even flash their indicators to show you when it is safe to pass.

That’s handy as they have a high view and can see a lot further ahead.

 

2 Comments

  1. Just as important, if not more so, for drivers of small cars to be aware of these blind spots too. Just take a look at the dash cam videos on youtube at the number of cars driving in truck blind spots and then getting hit by the truck.

  2. Article left a lot out.
    Always plan ahead so that you’re where you need to be when you’re past the vehicle and not having to make radical moves to get there.
    The truck is not the only problem, often there are other vehicles that will do something unexpected or ever stupid near larger vehicles. An example is the fool who tailgates the truck for a very long time then suddenly decides to overtake just as you go to pass.
    Or the idiot who doesn’t like having a truck behind them so suddenly changes lanes just as you are passing the truck. Then there are the idiots who suddenly pull out of slip roads etc and cause the truck to run you over so look ahead and get the passing done well before or after any kind of junction.
    Never go to pass a truck at an intersection , sometimes you can’t see their indicators if they work or they bother to use them.
    Beware of speed cameras they’re usually in places that are the safest to overtake.

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