If you miss your turn-off, is it OK to make a U-turn? If you’re on a road open to traffic, the answer is no. Even if it’s legal to make a U-turn, there will likely be insufficient room to pull it off with your commercial or owner operator truck. Going up on curbs or on to soft shoulders is a bad idea as well. You can damage your rig or get stuck with your semi truck blocking both lanes of traffic.
It’s also risky from a safety point of view. If there’s a curve or hill down the road that blocks visibility, fast-moving traffic may not have enough time to stop before hitting the side of your trailer. This type of collision could mean a car under-riding your trailer, which could shear off the top half of the vehicle. A truck driver with enough room and experience to do a “quick” U-turn would still require at least 32 or more seconds to complete the maneuver. This leaves him exposed to high-speed traffic up to a half mile away at 60 mph.
In poor visibility conditions such as when it’s nighttime, foggy, raining, or snowing, a U-turn is out of the question. The best solution for when you miss your turn-off, is continuing until you find a large parking lot, or an opportunity to drive around the block (in towns and cities), or find a detour that effectively does the same thing. Depending on the situation, you may lose some time doing this. However, that’s preferable to an accident, damaging your rig, getting stuck, getting a ticket from the police, and possibly losing your job.
Sometimes bad route planning can place you in a situation where it’s impossible to continue ahead, such as when there’s a low clearance overpass blocking your way. In this case, you should stop your truck, turn on your flashers, contact your manager, and then contact the local police for assistance with controlling the traffic. You may have to back up to a nearby intersection or pull-off, and do a three-point turn. Failing this option, you will need a tow truck. Careful route planning with an updated atlas for commercial trucking or a truck specific GPS, will prevent this kind of situation.
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