Driver-to-driver tip: Slow down for a passing rig

Kurt Kleinschnitz | February 03, 2014
Reader Kurt Kleinschnitz offered this story as his "No. 1 OTR driving tip."

Reader Kurt Kleinschnitz offered this story as his “No. 1 OTR driving tip.”

Perhaps three-quarters of all semi trucks on the highways in January 2014 have speed limiters. Mine is set to 65 mph. But often I come up behind another rig driving at 62 mph when I have several more hours driving in front of me. I’d like to pass.

Most often a highway will slope up and slope down, and passing another rig can take quite a while. In the meantime, the usual flow of traffic will back up behind our two trucks. I think all commercial drivers see this many times every day. 

Here’s my best tip. When I see another rig commit to pass me, I’ll tap my brakes to stop cruise control and let my truck coast more slowly. The other driver will pass me surprisingly quickly, and as he or she does, then I’ll hit “resume” on my cruise control and flash my lights to acknowledge it’s safe for the passing truck to shift to the right lane in front of me. I find that usually the draft of the passing truck helps me quickly regain my full speed. And the big plus is that we don’t block traffic. I’ve never seen on my GPS that this tip adds any time to my trip. And the other driver usually appreciates this help. I know I would.

By comparison, and far more common, is when I go to pass, the other driver will simply continue on cruise control and leave it up to me to get past. I’m always uncomfortable traveling side-by-side like that for a few minutes. Occasionally the other driver even will have an opportunity to speed up, and passing turns into a horse race. Once in a while I feel compelled to abandon my attempt to pass and drop back behind again.

I like to think that all of us commercial drivers are on one team, delivering the goods for America. I reduce my stress with this trick. I think this tip can improve the quality of life for the other drivers on the highway, and boost the standing of all truck drivers with the public.  


  • Name

    This could not have been said any better!

  • texan2thebone

    Well said! Keeps traffic moving much better when we eliminate the elephant races. And once the other passes you, unless there is a hard pull stay behind them instead of playing leap-frog.

  • driveandcycle

    reminds me of the admirable pro drivers my dad used to point out to me as a kid – thanks for the reminder!!

  • george

    Good to know I’m not the only one who drives that way.Got plenty of power so I don’t need to drive like I’m in my B61 with my foot pushing the floorboard out so I won’t lose 2 MPH.

  • Ralph

    This idea works great for a get-on ramp also. Let the truck that let you come on pass. Then if you want, pass them after they have moved over and traffic has cleared out. I’ve done this quite a few times.

  • irt10417

    Thank You. I ‘ve been saying that for years. I can’t understand why another truck would leave you stuck out in the passing lane knowing you just want to pass. When they speed up and leave you out there, I think it’s pure ignorance.

  • LandShark

    Excellent thought. Thanks for sharing. I had never really thought about it until you made the great point. I worked that way last night. You’re right. Thanks.

  • John

    I agree in principle. Having said that, I’d prefer we all drove in a manner that didn’t require the “other guy” to slow down or speed up. If you don’t have the power to pass, don’t. And when you pass, wait for my signal or leave lots of space when you come back in front of me. And when you come back in front of me, don’t slow down. I really don’t want to know if your load is sealed, or the number. I realize we may be in the mountains, but it ain’t Brokeback Mountain!

  • PT Trucker

    Amen!!! It seems like before cruise control was on every truck, this was how it always was handled.

  • Truckertwotimes

    I give this a 5 Star Rating and an A Men to that, it takes more of a professional to slow to let a truck pass than it does to hold it to the governor, I had that happen on I-40 west of Hickory one night, I had followed this other truck for a long way before I decided to get my extra 2 mph (some don’t know what this is like… some haven’t had this rattle their brain for years) anyhow, while seesawing in the left lane there was this little gray dodge van that swung behind me (as I was in the left lane trying to pass and get some room before cutting back to the right lane) cut the truck in the right lane short and soon as he cleared my bumper cut so hard back into the left lane in front of me that he almost lost it off the left edge of the road, I’ve never wanted to see a van do a flip and roll with people going everywhere so bad in my life, even to this day the resentment still eats at me.

  • Truckertwotimes

    That right…

  • Truckertwotimes

    I agree with John in principle also, but take into account that if the other truck and you have both been traveling for awhile and he catches up to you, he has been going faster anyhow, even if it is a few tenths of a mile faster, I realize some have never drove a company “human mind stressed out vehicle” before, but take it from me, the stress is there, otherwise, I’d still be doing what I always wanted to do since the 4th grade when an Overnite driver let me sit in his trucks driver seat while making a delivery to my Dad’s house one day.

  • Truckertwotimes

    Here is another fine brain stress killer, one night coming down I-81 I let an empty tanker out and he zoomed up to my governed speed so fast that it left us running neck and neck with traffic behind me in the left lane, so that night I played the game for several miles with the c.b. off slowing down and speeding up with the tanker in the right lane and traffic backed up behind both of us just for a “HOW DOES IT FEEL”

  • Truckertwotimes

    Yes, and before the GPS came along that showed the tenths of a mile per hour I didn’t end up with OCD

  • Truckertwotimes

    That reminds me of another story of a big truck trying to get on from an entrance ramp out in Texas somewhere, don’t remember where now other than Texas, and I couldn’t get into the left lane to let him out because of the convoy of “Heavy Traffic” ~ ~ btw some call it heavy traffic, I call it overpopulation… Then he got mad at me and told me off on the c.b., I just simply explained the situation in the left lane and then he appologized as he understood then… What a stressful life trucking turned into…

  • Truckertwotimes

    That in itself is a big stress reliever when you have a truck that will work as hard as the driver does, when a driver has to work harder than the truck, that’s a problem, I never would have believed that 2 MPH or even 2 tenths of a MPH could drive a person craZy…

  • Truckertwotimes

    Reminds me of a mind I used to have a long time ago….

  • vickie Lee thomas

    I am an O/O and my truck is not turn down. My foot is. I set my cruise control about 65 and keep my left door closed. I pay for my fuel. I pay for my insurance. If I run 75 or 80 mph I’m losing money. But I still have the power to move in a hurry if I have to. The cops need to stop looking at trucks as a source of revenue and start doing their job by stopping all traffic violators. I know they stop trucks Cuzz we don’t have time to fight the citation and the Joker in the car does. In 42 years of driving I’ve seen many a car fly by while the smokey stops the truck. Whoppee!!!! Easy money for the city, county, or state. Take your pick.

  • Damon

    Unfortunately, the “how does it feel” thing doesn’t work, because the kind of bastard who would leave you hung out like that, doesn’t give a damn how long you ride beside him. That sort of driver is too rude and inconsiderate to even notice that you’re stuck out in the hammer lane. At least the 4-wheeler drivers have the excuse of ignorance, not understanding that you don’t have the option of just gassing it and getting on past them. A truck driver should know better, but way too many of our brethren just don’t care.

  • The Breeze

    There are many inconsiderate company drivers out on the road in the middle lane doing 62 or 65 with the cruise control on that will not move to the right lane. I always begin by asking nice for the driver to slide over for just a minute so I can pass but no then I will give a quick flash of the high beams still they won’t move over I’m not sure if it’s jealousy because they can’t make the grade or that they are stuck in that company truck but there is a whole lot of drivers like this and some think it is funny or a game the comradery is terrible out ther.

  • The Breeze

    So you are one of the idiot driver’s out there that is going to get someone killed maybe the driver made a mistake I 81 is a very dangerous road just like a company driver with a 62 mile an hour truck. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.