Large Truck Blind Spots Can Be Deadly
In 2017, there were 450,000 crashes involving large trucks that were reported to law enforcement. Among those collisions, 344,000 were injury accidents and 4,237 were fatal crashes. In its Large Truck Crash Causation Study, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that surveillance problems, which happen when drivers fail to properly check their truck blind spot, caused 14% of the accidents.
More Trucking Accident Statistics
Since there are so many commercial trucks sharing our roads, blind-spot awareness is important. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that almost 12.5 million commercial trucks were registered in the U.S. in 2016. Considering this large number, it’s no wonder that there are hundreds of thousands of injury collisions every year. The FMCSA reports that among the people who were killed in large truck crashes in 2017, 72% were not truck occupants. In other words, smaller passenger vehicles are at a higher risk.
Under current trucking laws, large commercial vehicles are allowed to weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. The large disparity between the weights and sizes of commercial trucks versus other types of vehicles is a recipe for catastrophic injuries and fatalities. Trucking laws are meant to prevent serious truck accidents from occurring. Unfortunately, many people are killed or seriously injured every year in accidents with semitrucks, and many of these incidents are caused by truck drivers failing to see passenger vehicles in their blind spots.
Large Truck Blind Spots
Since large trucks are taller and longer, they have additional operational restrictions. One of these limitations is having much larger blind spots as compared to passenger vehicles.
The FMCSA reports that large trucks have blind spots surrounding all four sides. In front of the cab, the blind spot extends by 20 feet. In the rear of the trailer, the drivers are unable to see other vehicles that are traveling within 30 feet. Drivers who pass 18-wheelers on the left should be aware that large truck blind spots extend across an entire lane of traffic. The biggest blind spot for large trucks is on the right-hand side, which extends across two traffic lanes. If you are unable to see a truck’s side mirrors when you are driving behind it, the truck driver is also unable to see you.
Following a large truck collision that injures people, the experienced attorneys at RAM Law can conduct thorough investigations to identify all of the factors involved. This includes determining when truck drivers have failed to see other motorists while switching lanes.
Why You Must Avoid a Truck Blind Spot
When you are driving in a large truck’s blind spot, the driver cannot see you. This means that your risk of being involved in a serious or fatal accident increases whenever you are traveling in a blind spot.
When you pass a large truck, you should do so as quickly as possible. Do not drive alongside a large truck for a long time. If you are driving behind a commercial truck, keep enough distance between your vehicle and the truck so that you can see the side mirrors of the truck. Never attempt to pass a large truck on the right. Whenever you are traveling around a large truck, drive through any blind spot as quickly as possible, making sure to signal your intentions.
When you finish passing a large truck, make certain to give the driver plenty of room before you merge back into the lane ahead of the truck. Use your signals to let the truck know that you will be reentering the lane.
Legal Duties of Truck Drivers
To receive commercial drivers’ licenses, truck drivers must undergo extensive training. Part of the CDL course is focused on how the drivers should use their mirrors as well as how they should signal, change lanes, and execute turns. The CDL Manual from the FMCSA includes the following instructions for truck drivers about blind spots:
- Check all of the mirrors and adjust them before driving.
- Regularly look in the mirrors to remain aware of where other cars are at and to see when they move into the blind spots.
- Check mirrors to identify vehicles that are overtaking the truck.
- Look at the mirrors before starting to change lanes, after turning on the signal, immediately after beginning the lane change, and after the lane change is completed.
- Check mirrors when merging to ensure that the traffic gap is large enough to safely merge.
- Trucks should change lanes smoothly and slowly to allow other motorists to avoid the truck.
Truck drivers must take and pass an exam to obtain their CDL certification. However, some drivers fail to check their mirrors or change lanes safely in spite of their training. As you might imagine, these are negligent actions that increase the chances of collisions.
Legal Duties of Passenger Vehicle Drivers
Passenger vehicle drivers also have some responsibilities when they are traveling around large trucks. Motorists should not follow large trucks too closely. They must remain far enough behind the truck to see its mirrors. Passenger vehicle drivers are never supposed to pass a truck on the right. They should instead pass semis on the left so that it’s easier for the truck drivers to see them.
Motorists should never travel alongside a large truck for a long period. Instead, they should speed up in a careful fashion and pass the truck quickly. When you are ready to move back into the lane after passing a large truck, it’s important to avoid cutting off the truck driver. You should always signal your intention to pass with your left turn signal and use your right turn signal to signal your intention of reentering the lane in front of the truck.
Blind spots that surround commercial trucks pose higher accident risks, so they should be treated with care. Truck drivers and passenger vehicle drivers should make certain to signal their intentions and to check the blind spots. By adhering to truck blind spot safety rules, commercial truck drivers and other motorists can help prevent accidents.
Get Help From Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys
In trucking accident claims, the commercial carriers and other defendants may have insurance policies with high policy limits. This is due to the potentially high damages in a lawsuit or settlement. Because of the large amounts of money that may be involved, trucking accident defendants tend to be very aggressive in their defense against claims. It is common for insurance companies to start working to build their defenses as soon as they learn about the accidents, and they may have teams of defense attorneys ready to defend them. This makes it difficult to prove truck accident claims without getting help from experienced truck accident lawyers.
The attorneys at RAM Law are familiar with handling truck accident claims. Our firm understands the types of tactics that trucking carriers, insurance companies, and others use when they try to defend against legal action. We work to build strong cases on behalf of our clients so that they might recover maximal damages. If you have suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a truck accident that was caused by another party, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. You can call us in New Brunswick at (732) 247-3600 or in Somerville at (908) 448-2560.