How to safely share the road with big trucks

What you need to know:

One important thing to remember is to always leave a safe distance between you and the truck. Ensure you can see the driver’s face in their side-view mirror because if you cannot, then they cannot see you.

On April 17 2024, social media was awash with a video clip of a concrete mixer whose driver lost control as he approached the traffic lights at Nkumba on Entebbe Road. In the process, the truck hit a road island, overturned and fell on a saloon vehicle, killing the occupant.   

Two days later, at the same spot on April 19 2024, the driver of a commercial minibus lost control and rammed into several vehicles. Fortunately, no fatalities were registered.

On April 27 at 3:13pm, Silver Kayondo, a motorist tweeted on his X handle, saying concrete mixers had become a menace on our roads. The accompanying photo showed a cement truck waiting at the traffic lights and next to it was a minibus and other saloon vehicles in the queue. 

“Ground all and subject them to rigorous tests at the inspectorate of vehicles (IOV). Gazette them to be driven or used only on construction sites,” Kayondo advised, in a message that was probably directed to authorities such as the police.

Paul Kwamusi, a road safety consultant at Integrated Transport Systems Limited, explains that all trucks on the road, regardless of their size are dangerous. For safety, whenever you meet a truck on the road, expect something called truck load failure. The truck load can move in any direction, (either forward, backwards, centre or sideways).

“When vehicles are not moving in traffic jam or while waiting at the traffic lights, instead of using your mobile phone, stay alert and keep your eyes on what is going on around your car through your side and driving mirrors. This way, you will be able to notice some dangers and find a solution,” Kwamusi explains. 

“Alternatively, if you have no space to accelerate, it is safer to quickly exit the car and run to safety,” he adds.

What makes trucks different?

According to, the following factors make large trucks different and more dangerous than other vehicles:

• Blind spots. Large trucks tend to have a reduced field of vision, also known as blind spots. Blind spots are areas around a vehicle, in front, behind, and on the sides, where the truck driver’s vision is limited.

• Longer braking distance. A large truck’s braking or stopping distance is much longer compared to passenger vehicles due to its sheer size and weight.

• More space on the roadway. Because of their size, trucks take up lots of room on the road. This factor alone requires other motorists to keep a safe distance and give trucks plenty of room to manoeuver safely.

• Wide turns. If you have ever seen a truck make a turn, you may have noticed that these vehicles need an additional lane of traffic to complete a turn safely. For this reason, when passing a truck, drivers should always make sure that the trucker is not preparing to make a turn or change lanes.

• Increased risk of fatigued driving. Most truckers are pushing themselves to the limit to earn more money, which is why they tend to have higher rates of driver fatigue compared to other motorists.

Create a safe following distance

Micheal Kananura, the public relations officer of the Uganda Police traffic directorate, says the Nkumba incident involving the concrete mixer that claimed one life was unavoidable since there were other cars waiting at the traffic lights.

Kananura agrees with Kwamusi, saying it is possible to sometimes drive behind a truck that shows signs mechanical failure such as struggling to drive uphill.

“Create a safe following distance of approximately five metres from your car and the truck or any vehicle ahead so that in case of any mechanical failure, you have space and time to steer to safety,” Kananura advises. 

The case of bullies

On highways, there are trucks and buses that hoot loudly to the point of scaring you into a panic, forcing you to veer off the road. This, in traffic terms, is considered inconsiderate or careless driving by the motorist in the hooting vehicle and it is a punishable traffic offence. 

Kwamusi is, however, quick to rally government to carry out regular mandatory truck inspection in the country to avoid getting into situations where road crashes have no solutions.

“Test and inspect trucks regularly because they are few in number compared to smaller vehicles. This would help fleet owners carry out proper truck maintenance,” Kwamusi says.

According to, an online portal, avoid squeeze play. Truck drivers sometimes need to swing wide to the left in order to safely negotiate a right turn, especially in urban areas.

“Drivers cannot see directly behind or beside them, so cutting in between the truck and the curb increases the possibility of a crash or a squeeze. Pay attention to truck signals and give them plenty of room to manoeuver,” the portal advises.

Do not rush construction vehicles

The portal adds that it can be tempting to speed around slow moving trucks, cranes and other specialty vehicles near job sites.

“Do not. Keep at least a four-second distance behind the vehicle and when safe, use those four seconds to pick up your speed to pass safely,” the portal adds.

Know the no zones, states that the no zones are the blind spots or danger areas around large trucks and buses. Crashes are more likely to occur in one of the no-zones. For example, triple trailers can be up to 105 feet long, creating much larger no zones and greater limited visibility alongside and behind these trucks.

Do not linger

The portal explains that trucks may have to swerve for debris or obstructions in the roadway. The truck driver may move into your lane without knowing you are there.

“Due to a truck’s size and weight, they are unable to manoeuver easily. As such, do not linger on either side of a truck’s no zone because the truck driver may unknowingly change lanes or swerve into your vehicle. Make sure you can see the driver’s face in their side-view mirror. If you cannot see the truck driver, then they cannot see you,” the portal advises.   


No matter what, when you are driving, stay off the phone. Texting and driving has caused fatal accidents and sending a text to someone is not worth the risk involved. Reaching for an object that you dropped, or for a paper that may be in the glovebox or the rear seat can cause an accident as you must take your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel. Stay alert and fully focused on the road ahead of you and the trucks, of any, that may be traveling along the same stretch of road with you.