Everyone has gotten stuck in a traffic jam at one point or another. Unfortunately, sometimes these situations can last for even a couple of hours. Driving a truck in a traffic jam is not easy, but it’s essential that you remain calm, patient and focused.
There are many reasons that a traffic jam may occur, from bad weather and construction work to traffic accidents and busy roads during the vacation season. The secret to safely driving a truck in a traffic jam is to maintain the distance with the front vehicle, keep up an adequate speed and try to stay alert in order to anticipate different situations and react in time to potential risks.
Keep the safety distance
One of the most frequent accidents that occurs in traffic jams is caused by not maintaining the correct safety distance. It’s very important to stay away far enough from the front vehicle. This allows you to brake in time if necessary, and not hit the said vehicle in the event of sudden braking. If it’s raining or there’s construction work going on, make that distance even bigger.
If you approach the traffic jam, you must also reduce the speed of your truck. This way, you’ll warn the other drivers behind you that they should slow down, too. In addition, you’ll waste less fuel and avoid premature tire and brake wear.
Once in the jam, don’t abuse the clutch pedal and only use it when necessary; that is, when stopping the vehicle. To minimize damage to the clutch system, don’t keep the clutch pedal dropped and the gear engaged.
Once you notice that the vehicles are starting to move, or that the actual jam is starting to dissipate, don’t assume that you can suddenly accelerate. You never know what kind of jams may await just feet away.
Most importantly, avoid changing the lanes while you’re stuck in a traffic jam. This is a very dangerous practice for large vehicles such as trucks when they’re surrounded by other vehicles. You may even end up being the reason for a worse traffic jam, or even a traffic accident. In case you must change the lanes, warn the drivers around you about doing so.
By all means, do your best to avoid the so-called “accordion effect” when driving a truck in a traffic jam. It usually happens when one vehicle starts making sudden lane changes, does not drive smoothly and does not maintain safety distances with other vehicles. This triggers an effect of imitation by the other drivers, which then produces the “accordion effect”, which can result in a serious collision.
When the traffic jam occurs inside a tunnel, you should turn on the emergency lights. Still, turn off the engine if the stop lasts more than two minutes. This way you’re preventing the accumulation of carbon dioxide inside the tunnel.
When stuck in a traffic jam, use your position as a trucker to observe the vehicles in front of you. Doing so will allow you to anticipate possible situations and activities, thus giving you enough time to react accordingly. On the other hand, never lose sight of your mirrors; these are essential for monitoring the vehicles behind and around you.
Keep in mind that slowing down in case of a traffic accident when there’s no actual traffic jam is not acceptable. What’s more, this kind of irresponsible behavior can even cause the jam. That said, be careful and observant as you drive and maintain a consistent speed (less than a speed limit) in cases like these.
We at Bottomley Enterprises hope that you have the patience and experience not to lose your cool while driving a truck in a traffic jam. Interested in joining our team perhaps? Then feel free to fill out our driver’s application. You can also follow us on Facebook for more trucking news and updates.