Is It Safe to Pass a Truck on the Right?

Is It Safe to Pass a Truck on the Right?

Even if you’ve been driving for a long time, when you have to travel near or next to a large truck, it can be intimidating. How do you know if the trucker even sees you?

Or, what if they start to swerve into your lane, and you get stuck between the big rig and the concrete median that separates the highway?

This begs the question: is it safe to pass a truck on the right? The quick answer is no, but it’s important to understand the reasons why that is. Passing an 18-wheeler can be a dangerous and nerve-wracking experience for a lot of people and in this blog, we’ll dig into the best and safest ways to do so.

Understanding Why Passing Trucks Is Dangerous

Semi-trucks are huge and weigh so much more than passenger vehicles do. It takes them longer to stop, and more time and finesse to make turns and maneuver intersections. This is why it’s so important to move quickly past truck blind spots and stay out of the no-zones as much as you can.

While we know that all cars have blind spots, it’s vital to all drivers’ safety to understand just how big trucks’ blind spots are compared to other vehicles.

A general rule of thumb from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is that if you can’t see the truck driver in their side mirrors, then it’s likely that they can’t see you. And if they can’t see you, it raises the risk of them encroaching into your lane and causing a sideswipe accident.

According to 2021 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most fatal accidents involving large trucks are multi-vehicle collisions, and in 43.1% of two-vehicle crashes, both the truck and the other vehicle involved were traveling straight.

This is another reason why it’s important to stay out of a truck’s blind spots as much as possible, especially on highways or interstates where there are less likely to be turns or intersections.

Are There Rules for Passing Other Motorists?

Generally, drivers are required and expected to travel in the right-most lane of a roadway, except when needing to make a left turn or when passing slower vehicles in the right lane. Often, drivers will refer to the right lane as the “slow lane” and the left lane as the “fast lane,” indicating what most of us have been taught, that the left-most lane is for passing.

Most states have laws or statutes in place that dictate when and how drivers are allowed to pass other vehicles, usually specifically on highways.

According to Nevada Revised Statute 484B.200, for example, all vehicles must be driven on the right side of a highway, with the most notable exceptions being when overtaking or passing another vehicle traveling in the same direction or when the right side of the highway is closed to traffic.

Additionally, NRS 484B.207 and 484B.208 state that all drivers should pass on the left and not move back to the right until it is safe to do so and that any motorists moving at a slower rate of speed than the posted speed limit should vacate the left lane if being overtaken by another driver.

The only times that passing or overtaking a vehicle on the right is allowed, as NRS 484B.210 clearly states, is under the following circumstances:

  • When a vehicle in the left lane is turning or signaling to turn left
  • On an unobstructed area of highway pavement that is not occupied by parked vehicles and is wide enough for two or more lines of moving traffic in each direction
  • On an unobstructed area of highway pavement not marked as a traffic lane and not occupied by parked vehicles and only if the vehicle passing on the right does so for no more than 200 feet and does not travel through an intersection or past driveways or entrances to the highway

Passing on the right is not allowed if doing so is unsafe in any way or if it requires a driver to move off of the paved portion of the highway.

The other areas our firm serves (Washington, Oregon, and Idaho) also have similar laws and statutes on when and how it is allowable to pass on the right.

As you can see, not only is it an unsafe maneuver to pass a truck on the right due to the large blind spots as mentioned before, but it’s also against the law in most circumstances. It’s important to have insight and understand how to drive safely around trucks so that everyone out on the road can get safely to their destination.

If you’ve been in an accident that caused you to suffer injuries while passing a large truck, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Trucking Injury Law Group for assistance.

We’re here to help.