Navigating around 18-wheelers requires extra care

Yes, it’s like following a wall. And, yes, they do crawl up hills.

But they have the same right to be on the highway as anyone else.

Tractor-trailers are essentially a moving warehouse on wheels and are classified as Class 3 vehicles. They can weigh 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. When big trucks are on the road, drivers of other vehicles should be aware of the 18-wheeler’s capabilities and limitations.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, large trucks accounted for 3,964 fatalities nationwide in 2013. In Nevada, the Department of Transportation (NDOT) reported that between 2009-13, 371 people died, and 2,771 were seriously injured in collisions with big rigs.

Ken Kernitzki of northwest Las Vegas has been a truck driver for nearly 20 years. He began as a diesel mechanic before going for his license. He said he likes the travel.

Regular drivers “don’t understand what we’re doing; they’re not informed,” he said. “All they see is the truck in their way. It’s an obstacle, and that’s all they see.”

Kernitzki said the state should better educate regular drivers on the blind spots of big trucks and how they cannot stop as quickly.

Making a right-hand turn at an intersection is where he sees most of his near-miss moments. He estimated that 70 to 80 percent of drivers will try to take the right lane when he’s about to turn right.

“They’re unaware (of how much room is needed). They’re just trying to get around an obstacle,” he said. “All they see is something that’s slow and wasting their time, so they try to (squeeze around) us. But all they’re doing is increasing the danger.”

Read more…