The biggest adjustment any new truck driver has to make, compared to how they normally drive, is having to rely on the mirrors. Semi-trucks are notoriously the biggest vehicles on the road, yet the sheer size of one puts some restrictions on what a driver can see. With the added responsibility a truck driver has to follow the rules of the road for everyone’s safety, you must find a way to make up for its shortcomings. Many accidents on the road can come as a result of a driver not having enough visibility. This means knowing how to drive when mirrors are your only option to survey what is happening around you and making changes when necessary. Continue reading to get some simple tips for using semi-truck mirrors that can contribute to increased safety on the roads.
Be Aware of the Danger Zones
In order to understand how to use semi-truck mirrors properly, drivers need to be aware of the limitations the vehicles can present on the road. Semi-truck drivers should be well-versed in the danger zone areas on the road where they can cause harm to others because whoever is driving a semi-truck can’t see where they are from these vantage points. A common example of a danger zone is a blind spot, which is on the right or left side of the truck towards the back. Being well-versed in the danger zones will allow truck drivers to make the necessary adjustments to ensure their safety and the safety of others.
Adjust Your Mirrors Properly
The biggest adjustment truck drivers will have to make when they are on the road is to put themselves in the right position for the best line of sight possible. To adjust mirrors properly, be sure to check them before you take off on a long haul. Sit in the driver’s seat when you are parked and check the primary mirrors and make sure you have a clear view that reaches the back of the trailer. If this isn’t the case, then carefully adjust primary mirrors to eliminate any blinds spots you may have.
Once you have dealt with the primary mirrors, move onto the convex mirrors which are located below the primary mirrors. Convex mirrors should have the same view as the primary mirrors, with the end of the trailer visible.
As for the look-down mirrors of your semi-truck, you will want them to face the blind spot on your right side. A semi-truck also has hood and fender mirrors, but a driver will not have to make any adjustments to them because they don’t give you that ability since they are mounted.
Check Your Mirrors Often While Driving
A huge part of being a trucker is changing your driving style since a semi-truck is much different than your normal vehicle. The most important change you will have to make while driving is constantly checking your mirrors and even relying on them. A truck driver must be aware of their surroundings on the road, and the best way you can do this is by checking your mirrors frequently, or every 8 to 10 seconds. This way, if something were to occur, you can quickly respond to the issue at hand.
Use Mirrors During Turns
A scenario when truck drivers also must take notice of what is happening in their mirrors is when you make a turn or a lane change. Checking your mirrors will give you the reassurance that it’s safe to make the move on the road without there being any damage to follow. When you are making tight turns, your mirrors will give your best chance at making the right call on whether you have enough space to make the turn.
Inspect Mirror Condition
Another simple tip for using semi-truck mirrors is to look at the condition of the mirrors before you take off. Like any vehicle part, your mirrors can be damaged, but there can also be issues with how clean they are. Some common issues many truck drivers face with their mirrors is coming across bird droppings, smears, mud, dirt, loose glass, and more debris that can obscure your view. Keeping your mirrors clean is a simple piece of maintenance any truck driver can do before, during, and after their long haul. Semi-truck mirrors should also be inspected for any looseness that might harm their durability. A mirror’s condition can directly affect how well you can see on the road.
Know the Laws
When it comes to mirrors, there are numerous state laws that you must be aware of so you can follow them. While the laws will vary from state to state, some will require you to have one or two mirrors that will give you a view of the rear. You might also be asked to have extra mirrors if the rearview mirror is obstructed, or to make sure your mirrors are only 6 inches past the trailer. Since long hauls require you to travel across various states, it’s best to be well-versed in all the different state laws to avoid any trouble.
Add More Mirrors if Necessary
In the previous section, we mentioned that some states might require you to have some extra mirrors, but you can also do this on your own for even more vision on the road. Most semi-trucks will come with primary mirrors, but some additions you can make include extended planar mirrors, hood and fender-mounted mirrors, convex side mirrors, and passenger side mirrors. For truck driving, more visibility on the road will do you more good than bad, and extra mirrors on your vehicle can help with that.
Shop at Unitruck
If you need mirrors to either replace or add to your semi-truck, Unitruck is a great place to look for what you need. Take a look at our great selection of angle mirror lens and more from trustworthy brands like Cascadia, Volvo, and others. Safety should be a top priority for every truck driver, and one way to encourage it is to invest in mirrors that will give you better visibility on the road. If that means adding more mirrors or replacing old ones, Unitruck’s vast collection of aftermarket parts has you covered.