The vast network of streets, freeways, and highways that connect all the corners of the United States are a blessing that few people appreciate until they put caution to the wind and set off on a road trip. But once many drivers reach the wide open plains in the middle of the country, they realize exactly how crucial the shipping industry is for keeping everyone fed and clothed.
Just about every product that consumers consume spends at least part of its life on a semi-truck before it ends up in the kitchen, living room, or bedroom of the houses that make up the neighborhoods of this land. Even the wood and shingles that make up the homes get shipped via big rig—and everything in the neighborhood store has been shlepped by truckers from their place of manufacturing or port of entry to the shelves of the greengrocer on the corner.
But the trucking industry isn't all logistical heroics and there's no doubting that environmental concerns foreshadow a revolution in the industry; just ask Elon Musk, who hopes his driverless, electric semi-trucks can help reduce carbon emissions and improve the safety of the goods, the trucks, and the drivers around them on the road. And anyone who has taken a road trip knows that the interactions between truckers, their rigs, and the passenger cars around them can quickly turn from bad to worse.
Keep scrolling for 10 things that truckers do to annoy everyone else and 10 things they hate to see all the smaller cars get up to.
20 Truckers Annoy Everyone: Driving Slow
Big rigs are enormous vehicles that can weigh up to a full 80,000 pounds. And that's not even taking into consideration special circumstances like when the trucks have 'Oversized' or 'Wide Load' signs hanging everywhere with escorts front and rear making sure the road is cleared for them. There's a reason big rigs drive slowly; they're simply difficult to start and stop, not to mention turn. But that doesn't stop every driver of a regular vehicle from getting annoyed when semi trucks take forever to get up to speed on city streets or when they chug up a hill on the freeway going barely above walking speed.
19 Truckers Annoy Everyone: U-Turns/Turning Wide
The immense length of a semi-truck makes it very hard to turn. Truckers are extremely skilled drivers who have to learn the turning radius of their truck and how it varies based on the length of the trailer they're pulling. But even the shortest of tractor-trailers requires almost infinitely more space to make a U-turn than an average car. And the length of time it takes them to pull off the maneuver often leaves the rest of the drivers on the road infuriated that their day is getting thrown out of whack because some trucker decided to head downtown through narrow streets to deliver his load during rush hour.
18 Truckers Annoy Everyone: Taking Up Two Lanes
Anyone who has gone on a road trip knows the frustration of trying to navigate roads that, by right, are really the territory of long-haul truckers. But it still seems like those big rigs manage to always choose the exact wrong time to pass each other, like when the only passenger vehicle visible for miles is about to pass in the overtaking lane and the semi cuts them off just as the road takes a slight uptick that causes both lanes to come to a grinding halt because none of the trucks are able to go more than 30 miles per hour up the grade.
17 Truckers Annoy Everyone: Driving In Town
Many cities have actively tried to reduce the number of big rigs that end up driving on their streets. Instead, semi-trucks are relegated to shipping and distribution centers on the outskirts of town, where their loads are either transferred to trains or smaller trucks and vans that can more easily slip through crowded streets without causing immense headaches for the rest of the world around them. And yet, because of the nature of human consumption, it will always be impossible to 100% eliminate big rigs from the streets of a city. After all, where else is McDonald's going to get the boatloads of buns they need on a daily basis?
16 Truckers Annoy Everyone: Taking Up Gas Stations
On long highway road trips, a mindblowing sight for city dwellers can be immense gas stations that seem like they have hundreds of pumps. Between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, a Chevron boasts of being the nation's largest gas station, as if that's some kind of a tourist attraction. But all the commuters racing towards the gambling tables or back home after a weekend of sports betting all know that that Chevron is always going to be taken up by only a handful of semi-trucks whose drivers have decided that because the station is so large, they can drive their trucks however they want and take up more than one pump at a time.
15 Truckers Annoy Everyone: Exhaust Fumes
Out on the wide open road, the congested roads and congested air of the big cities can be left behind. The blue sky melds with the horizon in wavy heat distortion and it becomes clear why Woody Guthrie sang about a "ribbon of highway" and "the endless skyway" as he traveled across the barren expanses of the United States. Open the car window, and crisp, clean air floods the car—until the next semi passes by, belching out diesel fumes and a plume of smoke as it accelerates to try and merge more efficiently. Try not to think about the livestock it's hauling and what they're putting out, either.
14 Truckers Annoy Everyone: Loud Engine Brakes
Roadside motels populate every small town across the United States. For $40-60 per night, they offer a respite to the weary travelers criss-crossing this country via the enviable spiderweb of Interstates that link the largest cities to the smallest farms. But at $50 a pop, don't expect Motel 6 to offer any kind of sound insulation against the big rigs that drive those Interstates 24/7, downshifting and engine braking in their efforts to disturb the peace. In reality, they're trying to be more fuel efficient and reduce their emissions when they select proper gear ratios and employ engine brakes but it sure doesn't seem that way at 2 o'clock in the morning.
13 Truckers Annoy Everyone: Lower Speed Limits
Some regions of the United States, including California and wherever mountain driving conditions might be encountered, mandate different speed limits for different classes of vehicles. (Some places like Texas even have different daytime and nighttime speed limits.) But this counts as something that annoys both the truckers, who hate having to go 20 miles per hour slower just because a state has decided they should, as well as the rest of the driving public, who hate having to maneuver around truckers who are all trying to decide exactly how high above their reduced speed limit they're willing to go to make a few more bucks an hour without getting a speeding ticket.
12 Truckers Annoy Everyone: Blind Spots
Driving on the road next to a big rig can be pretty scary, especially at night or during inclement weather. Plenty of people who refuse to drive on highways and freeways cite exactly this as the reason why they're afraid to venture onto the higher-speed roadways. When merging next to or passing a semi truck (or in the rare case when a semi-truck is passing), it's important to take into consideration the immense blind spots that are the result of the trucks' lengths and the limitations of rearview mirrors. But no one likes having to take into consideration the fact that the semi might not even be able to see them—and those signs on the back don't make anyone happier, either.
11 Truckers Annoy Everyone: Brights
Nighttime driving presents a host of challenges that don't even come into play during daytime driving. The necessity of turning the brights on and off with respect for other drivers becomes immediately clear when the first person passes going the other direction without turning off theirs. In most cases, the offender is a semi-truck. But wait before getting angry—the reality is that because big rigs have their cabs so high, they put their headlights up higher, as well, to help the drivers be able to see the longer distances they'll need to be able to scan in order to potentially stop safely. It's the angle and height of the headlights that makes them annoying, not the driver failing to turn off their brights.
10 Cars Annoy Truckers: Tailgating
Big rigs require exponentially more distance to start and stop because of their immense weight. In traffic, the result is that semi-trucks seem to be taking their dear, sweet time and causing even more traffic. The reality is that truckers can see much further than commuter cars because they're sitting up high and they do their best to maintain a constant speed—as should the rest of the cars on the road. But to the smaller vehicles, it seems like the truckers are taking forever and nothing grinds their gears worse than tiny cars that are tailgating directly behind them in traffic (or on the open highway, where some drivers do it to achieve better MPGs).
9 Cars Annoy Truckers: Weaving In Traffic
Traffic flow is a surprisingly complex science and it turns out that most drivers on the road are actively creating traffic when they accelerate as quickly as possible and then slam on the brakes before changing lanes to try and get in a faster moving artery. Every single tap of the brake light causes a ripple effect backwards through the rest of traffic, while studies have shown that for the most part, constantly switching lanes is less effective than picking a lane and sticking with it. For truckers, all that weaving through traffic is even more annoying because they're trying to maintain speed while simultaneously keeping a safe trailing distance from the car ahead of them.
8 Cars Annoy Truckers: Merging
Merging onto the highway can be scary for drivers of tiny cars—but it's equally as scary for the truckers who know just how terrible most people are at actually getting up to highway speeds before attempting to merge. Everyone knows the stereotypical grandmother maneuver of slamming on the brakes before changing lanes but truckers have to live in constant fear that tiny cars making moves like that might force them to decide between taking out a small car or barreling into another lane at the last second to avoid an imminent collision. Do the truckers a favor and merge at the speed of traffic.
7 Cars Annoy Truckers: Blind Spots
Just like car drivers are worried to pass big rigs or drive next to them because of their enormous blind spots, truckers have to be concerned that some oblivious drivers may not even realize what they're doing. All those signs on the back of the shipping containers are there for a reason; plenty of truckers have changed lanes only to hear a loud honk or even worse, a crunch. With rearview camera technology becoming more widespread, blind spots are slowly being mitigated but in the meantime, truckers are still apt to become infuriated by all the teensy two-seaters spending hours sitting in their blindspots.
6 Cars Annoy Truckers: Slamming On The Brakes
According to the Utah Department of Transportation, the average passenger vehicle traveling at 65 miles per hour takes 316 feet to stop, which is approximately the full length of a football field. Big rigs have much beefier brake systems to compensate for their higher weight but even still, they take 525 feet to stop—or nearly twice as far as the smaller cars on the road. That means that every time a little commuter pulls in front of a semi just to slam on their brakes, truckers grit their teeth in rage as they are forced to slow down quickly to avoid a catastrophe, especially because there's a good chance they'll have to waste fuel and accelerate once again immediately afterward.
5 Cars Annoy Truckers: Inside On Corners
Anyone who has ever driven a Fiat 500 knows the strange sensation of having to parallel park such a tiny car with such a minuscule wheelbase. For truckers, it's the exact opposite. Every maneuver requires much more space and time—especially turning, when the cab must travel much further than the rear wheels, which can catch on curbs, signpoles, and lightpoles quite easily. And as annoying as popping a tire on a curb due to too tight of a turning radius may be, nothing is worse than looking in the rearview mirror in the middle of a turn and discovering that a commuter has gotten themselves stuck trying to sneak through the gap to save a few seconds.
4 Cars Annoy Truckers: Not Indicating
Approximately 100% of drivers become infuriated when the other drivers around them don't use their turn signals. And yet, it seems like only 5% of the population actually uses their indicators sometimes! For truckers, the tiny cars scurrying around them like ants become all the more ridiculous when they weave through traffic making lane change after lane change without using their turn signals a single time. Truckers need more advance warning to start and stop their massive vehicles and the passenger vehicle pilots around them can help everyone reduce traffic and improve safety by indicating their intentions ahead of time.
3 Cars Annoy Truckers: Driving In Truck Lane
As much as car drivers hate it when big rigs go slow in the fast lane, big rig drivers hate it when cars go fast in the truck (or climbing) lane. Climbing lanes are generally put in place on long highway stretches that experience high traffic and mountain grades. On such steep terrain, trucks need to be able to slowly chug up and down the hill while focusing on the health of their engine and brakes without being concerned about manic drivers trying to shed a few moments off of their drive. And don't even think about trying a runaway truck ramp!
2 Cars Annoy Truckers: Honking Gestures
Most truckers appreciate the childhood spirit of making the airhorn gesture and getting a big whopping honk from a big rig going by. But oftentimes, the tradition can get pretty old pretty fast, especially when the parents of the kids in the backseat slam on their brakes to keep their progeny directly next to the cab of a massive semi-truck so they can keep requesting a toot. Besides creating more unnecessary traffic, these drivers are often completely distracted from everything else that's going on around them—and they then become a distraction that can border on the dangerous for the truckers, as well.
1 Cars Annoy Truckers: Taking Up Parking Spots
At many truck stops, rest stops, and gas stations across the country, visitors are first greeted with signs splitting up the semi-truck and passenger vehicle traffic flow. And while the occasional pickup truck towing a few ATVs or a boat are welcome in the truck area, for the most part, truckers don't want to see any smaller cars in their territory. Not only does the appearance of a Prius make everyone have to stop and watch but the idea of a Prius taking up an entire parking space that's been intentionally made enormous so it can fit a big rig brings up bubbling emotions that typically end in a messy situation for everyone.
Sources: Utah Department of Transportation, Wikipedia, and Nate's Landing Wordpress.