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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

How To Safely Drive Through A Bend With A Truck

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Given the prevalence of truck accidents which happen when a driver fails to negotiate a curve, SA Trucker came up with a guide of how to safely drive through a bend with a truck.

In this guide truck drivers are equipped with knowledge of what to expect in South African roads and how to negotiate the meandering roads in the country.

The mountainous terrain our country is situated on means that mountain passes are unavoidable. The passes have sharp curves and blind rises which all pose a danger to an unprepared driver.

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There are 5 factors that a driver needs to balance off if they are to negotiate a curve safely.

  1.  How sharp is the bend
  2.  Road Conditions
  3.  Speed
  4.  Road Signage/Markings
  5.  Load
  6.  Danger signs (skid marks)

When approaching a curve;

Assess the sharpness of the curve and prepare to react accordingly depending on your assessment. A more acute bend requires that you reduce your speed to a level where you can effectively and safely negotiate the curve.

Hairpin bend
Hairpin bends are the most dangerous if tackled at wrong speeds.

If you get the assessment wrong, you may skid, lose control of your vehicle and overturn.

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Also factor in road conditions in your assessment, as wet, snowy or icy road surfaces, due to their slippery nature, require you to be more attentive and go slower than you would on dry road surfaces.

When driving downhill the momentum pushing the truck makes it more difficult to control it. Drivers are advised to make sure they control their speed before the start cornering.

Determine the most appropriate speed to negotiate the curve depending on the outcome of your assessment.

The golden rule being – you must be able to stop the truck, on your side of the road, in the distance you can see to be clear.

The golden rule explained

When driving on a curvy road, your speed should be low enough to allow you to be able to stop within the distance of the road that’s visible to you. You honestly can’t plan to stop around the curve where you don’t know if it’s clear or not. Get that right!

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Another factor to help you make a perfect assessment is road signs and markings. You will notice that before any bend, there is a speed regulatory sign which tells you the safe speed to negotiate the speed on. The given speed was established by engineers through a lot of tests, don’t try and go over if you want to be safe.

Curve direction sign
Curve direction sign

Curve direction signs will also help you make informed decisions. If for some reason, there are no signs, use the golden rule which suggests speed low enough to be able to stop within the distance you can see ahead.

Watch: Watch: Truck overturns in a perfect how not to tackle a bend with a truck

You may also see skid marks on the road which means another driver recently misjudged the bend and had to slam on the brakes to keep control.

Notorious bends will most likely have accident marks all over the roadside, a new guard rail, damaged trees and roadside walls should tell you it claimed victims before.

Your load type and weight also plays a major part in determining how you should drive on a bend. High loads pose a great risk of shifting outwards as you curve thereby shifting the centrifugal force of the vehicle. Once the centrifugal force shifts outwards while moving, the vehicle is bound to overturn.

Recently, trucker Joe exposed another reason causing side tipper trucks to overturn on curves. In his assessment and experience, Joe blamed uneven loads caused by the method used at some mines to fix overload. You can checkout the detailed article on the link above.

A load which weighs more on one side than the other is bound to cause the vehicle to overturn to the side where it’s heavier on, if it’s on the outward side when curving at speed.

You may have noticed that I took long talking about assessing the bend. Yes, that’s the most important thing, a proper assessment is half of the job done in your bid to negotiate a bend safely. If you get it wrong, the consequences are disastrous. It may have taken me long to explain but on the ground, the driver has little time to compute everything and decide on
the next course of action.

Driving on the bend

The actual driving on the bend becomes easier if all the factors have been considered and adequately examined.

As you approach the bend, slow down in good time and select a lower gear if needed, as this will give you more control. It can be dangerous to change gear whilst cornering as it means removing your hand from the steering wheel when driving a manual shift.

Turn the steering wheel smoothly and progressively and avoid making sudden movements.

Try not to apply the brakes as you steer round the bend as this will cause the vehicle’s momentum to shift your centrifugal force outward thereby causing you to overturn.

For the best grip and control, the engine should be under acceleration. This doesn’t mean you should increase your speed in the bend, it means the engine should be pulling the truck, not rolling.

To increase your zone of vision into the bend, so as to identify hazards in time, position your truck towards the outer side of the curve but still within your lane. In simple terms, when curving left – keep to the far right of your lane. When curving right – keep to the far left of your lane.

On a two way road and curving to the right, you should remember that if you cut the bend you may end up colliding with oncoming that will be hidden from your site by the bend.

The situation is different when you are curving to the left. If you cut the bend you trailer wheels may run off the road and end up dragging you off the road.

How To Safely Drive Through A Bend With A Truck
Overturned truck

One sign that may show you that you took a bend too fast is when your body automatically leans sideways to maintain balance as you bend. If you live to correct the mistake, next time, take the bend at a lower speed and you will notice that no leaning would be required.

As you leave a bend, check your mirrors to make sure you are not cutting the bend and gently accelerate to an appropriate speed for the road and traffic conditions.

There you go, I hope my guide on how to safely drive through a bend with a truck will help you to be a better truck driver. If you wish to add or subtract from this guide, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at admin@satrucker.co.za

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