Particularly for newer drivers, navigating the space around large commercial vehicles is often intimidating. Commercial vehicles handle quite differently than smaller passenger vehicles due to their increased size and mass; recognizing these handling differences is paramount concerning driver safety.
Fortunately, there are steps passenger drivers can take when passing these lumbering highway behemoths. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, passenger vehicle drivers should never cut off trucks or buses, and should always give extra space.
The dangers of cutting in
It is not a good idea to cut anybody off while driving, but the risks associated with cutting off a commercial vehicle are much higher. Since commercial vehicles are much larger and heavier than traditional passenger vehicles, they require more time and space to maneuver. Cutting off a commercial vehicle may result in the commercial vehicle running you over.
Always give breathing room
Since commercial vehicles require so much more time and space to maneuver, you will want to give them as much room as possible when you are passing. Generally speaking, you should start to pass the commercial vehicle when you are no fewer than 30 feet behind the vehicle. Any closer than this and you risk driving in the blind spot of the commercial vehicle. The driver will not be able to see you if you are tailgating the vehicle.
You should always pass the commercial vehicle on the left hand side, because the blind spot is at its smallest on the left. Finally, give the commercial vehicle at least 20 feet of space before merging back into the lane.