If you’re a regular highway driver, you’ve probably witnessed an “elephant race” at one time or another. A semi-truck pulls out of its lane and attempts to pass the other, usually blocking both lanes. The truck on the left isn’t fast enough to pass and the truck on the right won’t slow down. Why does this happen? Why do truck drivers pass each other?


Trucks are enormous, heavy pieces of machinery. A fully loaded truck can weigh as much as 40,000lbs. It takes an enormous amount of energy for them to speed up and slow down.

If they brake because of a single slow truck, they risk losing their momentum. That means they need to creep up to speed again, which disrupts the flow of traffic behind them and uses a lot of gas. Likewise, if they brake suddenly due to someone swerving in front of them, their trailer could “jackknife” and whip across the other lanes.

Because of the dangers of slowing down and the fuel needed to get back up to speed, truck drivers often prefer to pass a slow truck when it is safe to do so.


An elephant race occurs when one truck is unable to pass the other. This could be because the passing driver can’t get enough speed or because the driver in the slow lane can’t slow down. However, it can be caused by other factors as well.

Truck drivers have terrible visibility. Even if it is safe to merge, they can’t see what’s in the passing lane until they’re already in the lane. That means if there’s a slow driver in the passing lane, just ahead of the slow truck, the trucker can’t speed ahead and merge back into the slow lane. Stopped traffic can slow them down just as much, which makes it much harder for both trucks to get back up to speed and into the proper lane.

Next time you’re behind one of these infamous elephant races, take a moment to remember that trucks only merge when they have to and they’re probably just as annoyed as you are.

If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries or even wrongful death in a trucking accident, you might have a case. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Clarksville personal injury lawyer from Pete Olson Injury Attorneys, please send us an email or call (877) 438-7383.