– Why do HGV/Semi trucks feel the need to overtake each other when they’re cruising at a very similar speed?

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– Why do HGV/Semi trucks feel the need to overtake each other when they’re cruising at a very similar speed?

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I don’t think there’s a like sciencey explanation here. No one is going to be able to say anything to answer in a *real* way. They’re not supposed to. They’re trained not to, but they like to play. My boyfriend was just recently a trucker for awhile, and he said it’s like 50/50 idiots who think with their testosterone. They’re bored, and they have really, really big toys

UK here, so perspective is from British roads.

If a truck slows down on the motorway, getting back up to speed uses a considerable amount of fuel.
The cost of fuel in the UK is so high (and a real problem to the haulage industry), that it’s created an imperative for lorry drivers to maintain speed no matter what.
When you see 2 lorries on a British road side by side, one fighting to overtake the other, it’s because they can’t afford to reduce speed – or rather, can’t afford to speed up again afterwards.

Most truck drivers are using the cruise control so there is one less thing for them to concentrate on. However the trucks accelerate at different rates depending on their engine power and how much they are loaded. So as the road goes over hills and through corners the trucks may go at different speeds even if they are both using cruise control. In addition the granularity of the cruise control is often slightly different, even the same models have different wear levels on their tyres making them drive at different speeds. This means that it is not possible to use cruise control for the truck behind another truck. And this gives the truck driver more things to concentrate on making it harder to drive. So it is safer for the trucks to pass slower trucks. But the trucks usually drive at very similar speeds. A lot of them are at their regulated speed and even if not it is illegal to go over the speed limit even when overtaking. If the truck being passed is nice he will lower his speed a bit making it easier to overtake but it can still take some time.

Because the vast majority of us get paid either by the mile, or we get a percentage of the load, as opposed to getting paid by the hour. Therefore, the faster we get to our destination, the more we get paid.

The time that we are allowed to be driving is also strictly regulated and monitored, and since the people that set our loads up are sitting at a computer, they often can have unrealistic expectations about what we can accomplish.

Add to that the fact that some places will choose not to even unload us for many hours if we are late, even if it’s not our fault, and we can get pretty desperate to get there on time.

A lot of trucking is getting some place just in time. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve reached a destination with less than a minute left before running out of time and having to either park on the highway for 10 hours until our clock resets, or having to violate DOT law, which could cause us to incur heavy fines and penalties, should we get pulled over within the next 8 days.

A difference in 0.5 mph might not mean much to a regular driver, but to a trucker, that difference could mean hundreds of dollars.

Commercial trucks are top-speed limited. Long haul drivers are paid by the mile. A couple miles per hour speed increase may not make a difference in your short commute, but over the course of a day, or week, going a couple miles an hour faster is significant, meaning earning more money or finishing your route earlier.

Could I ask another part to this question, Like bike riders having someone up the front to create a slipstream for the other behind, is there much benefit swapping who is in front with long haul trucks? does it lower fuel consumption?

several good answers here, here is another one that comes up locally:

the trucker doing the passing is trying to pass because the other truck was unable to maintain speed going up a grade a few miles back and is trying to get out from behind them before the next one. In very steep grades you sometimes also see the opposite where the passing truck is the heavier truck going down a grade and they are trying to be a bit lighter on the brakes.

Thank you all for your replies. It’s interesting to know there’s a logical reason behind it and it’s not due to impatience or any other reason. Much appreciated!

Ex trucker: Governor/speed limiter means top speed is X. Drivers just hold the pedal to the floor, as that is easiest. Trying to adjust your foot to go 1mph slower, and stay there is a PITA.

Add in that each truck travels up and down hills differently due to weight, and power of the engine. So Truck A might climb hills better than Truck B, but if B weighs more it will often go faster down hill. I had times when me and another truck passed each other 5-10 times over the course of a night due to how we handled hills.

I was driving a truck governed to 57.5mph back when the highways went back up to 70mph… Didn’t mean a thing to most of the fleet trucks on the road, as we couldn’t go faster anyway.