For most South Africans, trucks are a hazard which contributes significantly to the country’s unacceptably high road accident rate. But trucks are more than a motorist’s nightmare – they play a vital part in keeping the economy humming.

With 86 percent of the freight transported annually in the country going via road[i], trucks are the lifeblood of industry and commerce. Remove them from the roads and South Africa would grind to a halt. Shop shelves would be empty, and even fuel would not get delivered to local petrol stations.

It is therefore critical that South African motorists get to grips with living with trucks – and start treating them with more respect and adjusting their driving to safely navigate them.

This Transport Month, MiWay Insurance – voted South Africa’s best provider of car insurance by the 2019/2020 Ask Afrika Icon Brands Survey – has compiled a guide to help other motorists co-exist safely with trucks:

  • Keep a respectable following distance. If you can see the truck driver in his rear-view mirror, then he can see you. This is a reasonable distance as it also lets you view traffic on the other side of the road which may impede safe overtaking.
  • Big trucks have big blind spots. Generally, a blind spot on the driver’s side of the truck is as wide as the traffic lane and goes back about half the length of a trailer. The blind spot on the opposite side can be broader and longer. Bear this in mind when approaching an 18-wheeler truck.
  • When you overtake a truck, the right time to re-enter your lane is when you can see the rig in your rear-view mirror.
  • Don’t overtake and then cut in front of a truck. Fully-laden trucks weigh many tonnes. They need much more space to brake in and come to a safe stop.  Cutting in front of a truck and not giving it adequate space could lead to accidents.
  • Dim your lights when you are driving behind a truck at night. They have large rear-view mirrors, and lights which are on bright can blind the driver.
  • When you want to change lanes or turn near a large truck, let your indicators flash your intentions longer than you usually would. This gives the truck driver time to see you and manoeuvre the vehicle safely.
  • Remember that trucks need wide spaces to turn in. Keep your distance and keep safe.

Most importantly, MiWay urges that motorists exercise patience when encountering trucks.

Losing a few seconds or a minute or two won’t make that much difference to your day, while an accident could. In fact, getting impatient could cost you your life.

MiWay is a Licensed insurer & FSP 33970. Ts & Cs apply.

[i] Road Freight Association of South Africa