Cornering a Big Rig – The One Critical Thing All Truckers Should Know

Red Kenworth W900 Driving on Sunny Day

Peterbilt sitting on pavement Cornering a big rig is one of those common maneuvers that every professional driver needs to master. 

Sometimes you’ll have to corner on a ramp. Other times, you’ll have to make tight turns in the city.

No matter what line of trucking you’re in, cornering is something you’ll spend a great deal of time doing.

And unfortunately, doing it incorrectly is a common cause of many trucking accidents.

How to Corner a Big Rig Safely

There are two factors that affect cornering a big rig. These factors are momentum and the amount of area needed to make the turn.

What you want to avoid is going fast enough that your load gains momentum and pushes your rig through the turn.

Keep in mind that in all situations, your tractor needs to have control and be pulling your trailer along behind it.

The Key Is To Take the Corner SLOWLY

This being said, the best way to take a corner is to GREATLY reduce your speed before you ever get to it. You will have to slow your vehicle down while it is straight, then proceed safely and slowly into the turn.

Trying to slow down while you’re already taking the turn can shift the momentum of your cargo and make you lose control.

Obviously, the traffic behind you on the road will slow down when you do, but don’t let that make you feel like you need to speed up.

This is the most critical part of taking a corner. 

Related > 7 Sure Fire Ways to Avoid Accidents

Missed Exits

If you happen to suddenly realize your exit is coming up sooner than expected, never swing to try to catch it. This can be tempting in congested areas where it’s difficult to get to certain locations. But the risk is absolutely not worth it.

Instead, slow down and get ready to take the next exit ramp. In most cases, you can then simply turn around under the next overpass. Last minute turns should NEVER be attempted.

Convoy of Big Rigs

City Streets

Cornering a big rig can be especially challenging in the city, especially ones where heavy traffic is an issue. But if you’ve missed your turn, the same thing applies to city streets as it does to highways. Slow down and prepare for the next turn. Then slowly and carefully turn around or make the next block to get back on your desired path.

Also, make sure you’re leaving yourself plenty of space to make your turn. But pay close attention to the traffic around you. You always have to consider the possibility that a motorcycle or small vehicle could sneak up into the space beside your truck on your turning side.

Avoiding Cornering Accidents

The main thing you need to understand is just how dangerous cornering a big rig can be when it’s not done correctly. Your chance of having an accident and losing control is greatly increased when cornering. Most of the time, these accidents occur because a driver tries to corner too quickly.

When this happens, the weight of the truck, trailer, and load can shift, pulling it over and causing it to flip.

Not only does this put the driver in danger, but it also often forces the load through the roof of the trailer, damaging the cargo. And even if the truck does not flip, the momentum of the moving load in the trailer can make it difficult to regain control.

This is especially true in icy or slippery conditions, where your problem can be compounded quickly.

Bottom Line

I can’t emphasize this enough…GO SLOWLY into any corner and never try to catch a missed turn going too fast. Your life and your load depend on it!

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