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Avoiding Trucker Blind Spots: A Basic Guide

Published on May 16, 2019 at 1:31 pm in Truck Accidents.

Responsible drivers understand where their vehicle’s blind spots are, so they can be careful when changing lanes or merging. But not all drivers think about the blind spots on other vehicles. As the size of a vehicle increase, so do the number of blind spots. Large trucks, like those that haul services and goods, have the biggest blind spots. Drivers who are unaware of where these blind spots or those who choose to ignore them and drive recklessly risk getting into an accident.

Crashes between tractor-trailers and smaller passenger vehicles often result in catastrophic injuries or fatalities. It’s important to be aware of the dangers of driving in a blind spot, the locations based on the trucks, and how to avoid these dangerous spots and drive as safely as possible.

The Dangers of Driving in a Blind Spot

Truckers are not always able to compensate for their blinds spots, so it’s important for drivers in passenger vehicles to exercise caution when driving nearby. There are unique accident risks that the blind spots on trucks pose, including override and underride accidents.

Override accidents are among the deadliest type of truck crash. These accidents happen when a semi-truck runs over another vehicle or even multiple vehicles. The injuries and damages are severe because it’s possible for the smaller vehicle to get stuck under the truck and be dragged for some time. Dangerous exposure to fuel or hazardous payloads is possible. This type of accident tends to happen when a passenger vehicle merges too quickly in front of a tractor-trailer, or when a car stops abruptly in front of a truck.

Underride crashes, which are equally as deadly, happen when a car crashes into the back of a truck. Injuries are often severe because the point of impact happens at head level. Even with airbags and safety devices, passengers can sustain acute or fatal head trauma or brain injuries. The most common cause of this type of accident is tailgating. Inclement weather is also a contributing factor.

Where Are Trucker Blind Spots?

A tractor-trailer has blind spots on all four sides. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) refers to these spots as “No Zones.” Driving in one of these zones puts you at a higher risk of getting into a collision because the truck is no longer able to see you and you may be driving so close to the truck that they won’t be able to stop or maneuver safely in the event of an emergency. As a general rule, if you cannot see the trucker in their side mirror, they cannot see you.

The following are the blind spots that make up a big rig’s “No Zones:”

  • Front Blind Spot. Because of the size of a tractor-trailer’s engine, a trucker is unable to see 20 feet in front of their vehicle. This is dangerous if you pass a truck and merge back to the right too quickly, as the truck could hit you from behind.
  • Rear Blind Spot. Because of the length and height of a truck’s trailer, a truck is unable to see 30 feet behind them. Tailgating a truck or speeding up quickly behind one is dangerous.
  • Left Blind Spot. When you pass a truck on a highway, they have a single lane blind spot to their left. As you’re passing, you’ll notice at a certain point you will no longer be able to see the trucker in their side mirror. When this is the case, they can no longer see you. Passing a tractor-trailer becomes even more dangerous when you do so around a curve.
  • Right Blind Spot. A trucker’s right blind spot is the largest. It extends diagonally for two lanes. Side override accidents are common when a car spends too much time in a truck’s right blind spot and drives erratically.

Tips for Avoiding Tractor-Trailer Blind Spots

Using the following tips can improve your visibility as a driver and help you safely maneuver around large trucks:

  • Avoid Tailgating. Staying a good distance away from a tractor-trailer can reduce your risk of getting into an accident.
  • Pass Safely. When passing a truck, it’s best to do so on a straight roadway. Remember to use your indicators, so the trucker knows you’re planning to pass. Never pass on the right. Once you’re in the left lane, pass quickly to avoid being in a “No Zone” for too long.
  • Merge Carefully. Once you’ve passed a trucker, you’ll want to get back over. Make sure you are far enough in front of the truck that you can see the driver in your rearview mirror. Once again, use your indicator to inform others of your intent to change lanes. Merge back to the right and refrain from slowing down.
  • Use Caution at Intersections. Trucks need extra room to turn. If you’re at an intersection, you’ll need to anticipate wide turns. Give the truck ample space, and never try to squeeze between a turning semi and the curb.
  • Be Patient. Because of their size, tractor-trailers may need extra time to get up steep hills. As it’s safest to pass on flat, straight ground, give the truck space and be patient. You’ll most likely have an opportunity to pass the truck once you’ve gotten over the hill.

At Solomon Law Group, we understand how devastating a truck accident can be. The physical, emotional, and financial consequences can be difficult to cope with – especially if catastrophic injuries or fatalities occurred. Negligent truck drivers and trucking companies should be held responsible in the event their negligence caused your accident. If you believe you were not at fault for your crash, you can file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for what you’ve lost. Learn more about your legal rights and options by contacting us today.

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