Rules of the Road for Passing

Truck drivers have strict rules and regulations to follow when it comes to the rules of the road for passing. Knowing these rules can keep not only themselves and their vehicle safe, but also make it safer for all other drivers on the road.

Knowing the rules of the road for passing is also important because truck drivers who violate them can face stiff penalties and the prospect of losing their job.

For those looking for a quick guide to the rules of the road for passing, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles has some tips that fleet managers can pass on to drivers as a friendly reminder.

Tips for Truck Drivers on Passing

The following guidelines apply to drivers of any type of commercial vehicle.

Strict Speed Limits

Other drivers may curse you (or honk), but truck drivers are well aware that sometimes trucks on the interstate will drive side-by-side for longer than other vehicles. That’s because truckers must strictly obey the limits placed on the speed of their vehicle – you can’t simply speed up to quickly pass another truck. For many trucks, that limit is 65 mph, even if the posted speed is faster.

Always Pass on the Left

Rules of the Road for Passing

Commercial trucks should only pass on the left. Passing on the right is only allowed during special circumstances and must be done only if necessary and completely safe to do so. Trucks can also change lanes to avoid hazards, but only when necessary and with great caution.

You may not pass on the left if:

  • Your lane has a solid yellow centerline
  • You cannot safely return to the right lane before reaching a solid yellow center line for the right lane
  • You cannot safely return to the right lane before any approaching vehicle comes within 200 feet of you
  • You are approaching a curve or the crest of a hill on a two-way road and cannot see around or over it
  • You are within 100 feet of a railroad crossing on a two-way roadway
  • You are within 100 feet of a bridge, tunnel or viaduct on a two-way road and your view is obstructed
  • Passing will interfere with oncoming traffic.

Always use directional or hand signals at least 100 feet before making a lane change and move completely into the left lane when passing.

After the pass is complete, signal your move back into the right lane. Before returning to the right lane, look at your interior rearview mirror and make sure you can see the front bumper of the vehicle you just passed.

Also, glance quickly over your right shoulder to double-check that you can see at least several feet of pavement between your vehicle and the one you passed before returning to the right lane.

Using Mirrors

Before making a lane change, check your mirror and signal the upcoming lane change. Before pulling into the left lane, glance briefly over your left shoulder and at the rear side window to make sure no vehicle is passing you or close behind you in the left lane.

Never rely only on mirrors when preparing to change lanes. Trucks have “blind spots” in the back on both sides. If a vehicle is in the blind spot, you may not see it in your mirrors, which is why you must always glance over your shoulder before changing lanes or passing.

Passing on the Right

Passing on Right

Commercial vehicles can only pass on the right if:

  • A vehicle ahead is making a left turn
  • You’re driving on a one-way road that is marked for two or more lanes or is wide enough for two or more lanes, and passing is not restricted by signs.

When passing right at an intersection, check traffic ahead and make sure an oncoming vehicle is not turning left into your path. On the right side, watch out for pedestrians and bicyclists. Before passing on the right on multi-lane roads, check mirrors, use proper signals for a lane change, and look over your right shoulder for other vehicles.

Never pass a vehicle on the left or right if it has stopped at a crosswalk to allow a pedestrian to cross.

After passing, check over your left shoulder and signal before returning to the left lane.

Passing Motorcycles

When passing motorcycles, drivers must allow them the same full lane width as other vehicles. Never move into the same lane space as a motorcycle, even if the lane is wide and the motorcyclist is riding to one side.

Keeping these practical tips in mind can help you better obey the rules of the road for passing. The best truck drivers always have the safety of others in mind in everything they do. That makes for better roads for all vehicles.

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