Beware of Semitruck Blind Spots

November 25, 2019 Truck Accident Blog

Semitruck Blind Spots: Why Avoiding Blind Spots Is Important

Collisions involving large trucks are much likelier to result in serious injuries or fatalities than other types of accidents. Data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, shows that 116,000 injury and 4,889 fatality accidents involving large trucks were reported to law enforcement in 2017. A total of 170,000 people were injured in collisions with large trucks in 2017, and 5,005 people were killed. Avoiding truck blind spots is a good way to avoid truck accidents.

Accidents With Large Trucks Lead to Injuries

The FMCSA conducted a three-year study of the causes of truck accidents called the Large Truck Crash Causation Study and published the results in 2014. This study looked at an estimated 120,000 injury and fatality truck crashes that occurred during a 33-month period to analyze the causes of the collisions. The FMCSA identified that inadequate surveillance by truck drivers was responsible for 20,000 crashes, or 14% of the total number. This occurs when drivers do not adequately check their mirrors. Driver inattention was the cause of 12,000 crashes, or 9% of the total number of accidents.

These statistics stress the need for both truck drivers and others to understand about the blind spots presented by large trucks. When people know where the blind spots of a large truck are, they can try to avoid them to reduce the risk of accidents. Truck drivers should studiously check their blind spots before they try to change lanes to make certain that no vehicles are present in them. If you have been injured in an accident with a large truck when you were traveling in one of the truck’s blind spots, an experienced truck accident lawyer at RAM Law will strive to help you recover monetary damages to compensate you for your losses.

Large Truck Blind Spots

Big trucks are much larger than passenger vehicles, which gives them additional operational limitations. The blind spots of semitrucks are quite large in the front, on both sides and in the rear of the trailers. Passenger vehicles also have blind spots, but they are significantly smaller than large truck blind spots.

The FMCSA reports that semitrucks have blind spots around all sides. According to the agency, the blind spot in front of a large truck is 20 feet, underscoring the importance of giving a semitruck plenty of room when you’re merging into traffic ahead of the truck. Truck drivers are unable to see other vehicles that are within 30 feet of the rear of their trailers. On the left-hand side, truck drivers have a blind spot that extends across a lane of traffic. The biggest blind spot for semitrucks is on the right-hand side. This blind spot prevents drivers from seeing vehicles located in the next two traffic lanes.

The Importance of Truck Blind Spots Avoidance

Avoiding blind spots is very important because when you drive in a blind spot, the truck driver cannot see you. Driving in a truck’s blind spots increases the risks that you will be involved in a severe or fatal accident. You should never drive next to a large truck for a long period when you are not actively passing the truck. When you are traveling behind a semitruck, stay back from its rear far enough to see the driver’s mirror. Passing on the right should never occur. When you do pull out to pass a large truck, do so only when you can get around the truck quickly. Minimize the amount of time that you spend in the truck’s blind spots, and give the truck plenty of room when you merge back into the traffic lane in front of it.

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Truck Driver Responsibilities Under the Law

To get a commercial driver’s license, a truck driver must go through extensive training. Part of the CDL course involves the use of mirrors, turning, signaling and changing lanes. The FMCSA publishes a model CDL manual that includes the following instructions for truck drivers about blind spots:

  • Position the truck’s mirrors before starting to drive.
  • Regularly check the mirrors to remain aware of the position of other vehicles and to notice when they move into the blind spots.
  • Spot vehicles that are passing with the mirrors.
  • Check the mirrors before lane changes, after turning a turn signal on, after beginning a lane change and after completing a lane change.
  • Look in the mirrors to make certain that there is a big enough traffic gap for the truck when merging.
  • Lane changes should be slow and smooth to allow other drivers to change lanes, honk or avoid the truck.

Despite the in-depth training and testing of truck drivers involved with getting a commercial driver’s license, some truck drivers still do not conduct adequate checks of their mirrors when they change lanes. When truck drivers do not adequately surveil their blind spots for other motorists, the likelihood of a serious accident increases.

The Responsibilities of Other Drivers Under the Law

Drivers of passenger vehicles also have responsibilities that they must follow when they are driving, including responsibilities for when they are driving around semitrucks. Motorists are responsible for staying back a safe distance behind large trucks in a position from which they can see the trucks’ mirrors. When passenger vehicle drivers pass semitrucks, they should avoid passing on the right. They should only pass semitrucks on the left to make it likelier that the truck drivers will see them.

Passenger vehicle drivers should never drive next to a semitruck for long distances. Instead, motorists should only drive next to large trucks when they are actively passing them. They should move through the adjacent lane quickly and reenter the lane in front of the truck while giving the semitruck plenty of room. Motorists should never cut large trucks off when they reenter the lane of traffic. Finally, motorists should use their right turn signals when they are preparing to merge into the traffic lane in front of a large truck.

The large blind spots around semitrucks carry much higher accident risks than other areas. This makes it crucial for passenger vehicle drivers and truck drivers alike to treat these spots with care. Everyone should check the blind spots around a large truck and make certain to use signals whenever they plan to change lanes. When truck and passenger vehicle drivers follow the safety rules regarding blind spots, they can help reduce the chances of being involved in accidents.

Get Help From RAM Law

Suffering serious injuries in a blind spot accident caused by the negligence of a truck driver might leave you with permanent disabilities, income losses and other problems. If you were injured by a truck driver who failed to check his or her mirrors before colliding with your vehicle, you may have the right to recover monetary damages to compensate you for your losses. An experienced truck accident lawyer at RAM Law can provide you with a confidential case evaluation. Contact us to schedule a free consultation by calling us at (732) 247-3600 in New Brunswick or (908) 448-2560 in Somerville. You can also email us at contact@ram.law.

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