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Trucks overtaking each other on highway with overcast sky

Why Do Truckers Block Both Lanes?

If you’ve driven on American highways for any amount of time, you may have found a curious case of two semi-trucks driving side-by-side, blocking both lanes. While finding yourself behind one of these “elephant races” can be irritating, it may be a necessary frustration. Here’s why truckers block both lanes.

What is an Elephant Race?

Major trucking companies in the U.S. equip their vehicles with “a governor.” A governor is a device that attaches to the engine and regulates the truck’s maximum speed, preventing it from going over a speed limit set by the trucking company.

The problem is that governors aren’t standardized. One trucking company might put their maximum speed at 60mph and another at 58mph. When a truck moving at 60mph approaches a slower vehicle, the driver has a choice. They either slow down (potentially extending their route and using more fuel), or they try to pass the slower truck.

Given the choice, most truckers choose the latter and block both lanes as they slowly pass the other truck. This becomes a two-fold problem because now the truck driver is slowing traffic behind them, and they still need to get enough room to pull ahead of the other truck and safely merge back into the travel lane.

A High-Risk Maneuver?

The real danger of trucks passing each other is on high-grade slopes, either inclines or declines. When a truck is going uphill, the engine labors against both the weight of the cargo and the incline. If the faster truck driver isn’t aware of their surroundings, they may approach the slower driver much sooner than expected and not have enough time to slow down safely.

At the same time, truck drivers must be especially careful when going downhill. The speed a truck was going when they reach the top of the hill determines the speed they will go downhill. If two trucks go over a steep hill at a speed difference as little as 2mph, the faster truck may be forced to quickly change lanes or risk a crash.

All drivers must be aware of these trucking limitations. When that turn signal comes on, it’s not because the truck driver is trying to save a few seconds. Rather, they need to maneuver around a slower vehicle as they may struggle to brake safely. Unfortunately, when cars don’t give them the space they need to get over, it could cause a serious crash.

If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a trucking accident, we are here for you. If you’d like to discuss the impact of your crash with an experienced car accident attorney, don’t hesitate to call upon Maring Williams Law Office. Our firm serves injured parties across North Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana. Send us an email or call us today at (701) 402-6644 for a free consultation.