It is a very specialized talent to drive a truck that's 70 feet long and weighs 80,000 pounds. Sharing the road with semi trucks is a skill just about everyone can improve upon, and knowing HOW to drive with truckers would make Montana roads immensely more safe for everyone.

Did you know that a truck driver from Montana, after winning Montana Trucker of the Year went on to win NATIONAL Driver of the Year? How cool is that? We'll get to all those fantastic details shortly. (The video about him is absolutely worth a watch. He's got a really interesting history.)

Driving any vehicle can be dangerous, especially in a state like Montana that is packed with wildlife. Add in annual road construction projects and incredibly foolish distracted drivers, and we already have a recipe for potential disaster.

The good news from the Montana Department of Transportation is this: "There were 207 fatalities in 2022. There have been 153 fatalities on Montana highways in 2023 (10/26) compared to 170 fatalities for this same time in 2022." That means we're on pace for FEWER fatalities in Montana this year.

Now, let's talk about trucks. Big trucks. We spoke with the Montana Trucking Association about the most crucial things folks need to know when driving on the same roads as trucks. They're big. They're heavy. And they're super important to all of our daily lives and the economies of every single state.

The most basic of rules seem pretty obvious, but yet distracted drivers break those rules every day - and the consequences could be deadly. Truckers are doing their jobs and they want to go home at night to their families as much as anyone else.

  1. Never cut in front of a semi truck - It takes trucks much longer distances to stop.
  2. Stay out of the blind spots - and those blind spots are MUCH larger than you think. 
  3. Don’t follow trucks too closely
  4. Trucks make wide right turns, so give them enough space.
  5. If your vehicle breaks down on the road, move over a far as possible on the shoulder. It's safer for you and it's safer for everyone driving past you
  6. Don’t drive distracted! Everyone on the road loses when people drive distracted. Put the phone down and focus on the task at hand.
  7. If you can't see the driver in the truck's side mirror, assume that the driver can't see you.
  8. After you pass a truck, make sure you can see the cab of the truck in your rearview mirror before reentering the lane. Maintain your speed and do not slow down once you are in front of the truck.
  9. Passing quickly and safely is the best option. The longer it takes you to pass a big truck, the longer you'll be in their blind spot. As long as you can pass safely, make it quick and don't dilly dally. That's not safe for anyone.
  10. Never tailgate a trucker. They can't see you if you're driving close behind them.

Tailgating a truck or bus presents added dangers. First, it puts you in a blind spot—or No Zone. Then, because trucks are so high off the ground, if you fail to stop in time (or get hit from behind) your vehicle could slide under the truck, with devastating results. (US Department of Transportation)

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Now, back to that Montana trucker who became the NATIONAL Driver of the Year! Here's what Duane Williams, the Executive Director of the Montana Trucking Association had to say about Jim Self:

"Below is a link to an amazing trucking driver. Jim Self truly represents the industry. He drives for Whitewood Transport out of Billings. He has over 6 million miles logged and driven for 47 years without a crash. Isn’t that something! As last year’s Montana Driver of the Year, we nominated him for the National Driver of the Year. He won! It is great to have someone like him from Montana be the National Driver of the Year."

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