CDL Driving Safely: Interactions With Others and Hazards

Keep Space Ahead of Your Vehicle

  • Allows you to safely stop.
  • One second for each 10 feet of vehicle length at speeds below 40 mph.
  • At speeds above 40 mph, add 1 second for safety.
  • Use posted objects on the road to maintain a steady pace.

Deal With Tailgaters Safely

  • Stay to the right so you are not holding up traffic.
  • Avoid quick changes.
  • Increase your following distance.
  • Don’t speed up.
  • Don’t turn on tail lights or flash brake lights.

Keep Space Beside Your Vehicle

  • Stay centered in the lane.
  • Do not travel next to others for extended periods of time.
  • This can lead to:
    • Crashes due to sudden lane changes.
    • Strong winds can blow you into another lane.

Pay Attention to Your Overhead Clearance

  • Don’t assume posted heights are correct.
  • The weight of a vehicle changes it height.
  • Go slowly if you are not sure.

Space Below

  • Can be very small when vehicle is heavily loaded.
  • Often a problem on dirt and unpaved roads.
  • Cross depressions and railroad tracks carefully.

Space for Turns

  • Turn slowly to give yourself and others time to avoid problems.
  • Turn wide as you complete the turn if necessary.
  • Don’t turn wide to the left as you are starting the turn.
  • Watch out for vehicles coming toward you and give them room to go by and stop.
  • If making a left turn, make sure you have reached the center of the intersection before you begin the turn.

Space for Interacting with Traffic

  • Be aware of the space you need to cross or enter traffic.
  • You will need a much larger gap due to slow acceleration and size.


  • A hazard is any road condition or user that is a possible danger.
  • Pay attention so you can see hazards before they impact your driving.
  • Drive slowly and carefully and signal appropriately.
  • Types of hazards:
    • Hazardous Roads.
      • Work zones, drop offs, foreign objects and off/on ramps.
    • Hazardous People.
      • People who can’t see others.
      • Delivery trucks.
      • Parked vehicles.
      • Distracted drivers.
      • Children.
      • Talkers.
      • Roadway workers.
      • Ice cream trucks.
      • Pedestrians.
      • Bicyclists.
      • Shoppers.
      • Confused drivers.
      • Slow drivers.
      • Drivers signalling a turn.
      • Drivers in a hurry.
      • Impaired drivers.
    • Disabled vehicles.
      • Accidents.
    • Conflict.
      • A conflict is caused when you change speed or direction to avoid hitting someone.
      • Can occur at intersections, merges and where lane changes happen.