How to Avoid Semi-Truck Blind Spots
Semi-trucks or tractor-trailers transport billions of tons of cargo all over the United States each year, and more than three million drivers deliver more than 70% of all freight by weight with trucks each year in the U.S. Semi trucks are a vital part of the U.S. economy and distribution network, so virtually every driver has encountered these large vehicles on the road at some point.
Driving near semi-trucks is inherently more dangerous than driving near another small passenger vehicle. Large trucks are much heavier and larger than standard passenger vehicles and capable of inflicting massive damage in an accident. In fact, an estimated 4,000 people die in truck accidents each year, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Types of Truck Blind Spots
Every vehicle has blind spots, or areas around the vehicle that a driver cannot see without turning his or her head. While you may be able to see completely around your vehicle by turning your head a bit and using rear-view mirrors, truck drivers do not have this option due to the size of their vehicles and visibility restrictions. Semi-trucks have 3 main blindspots you need to be aware of.
1. Rear-view Mirror Blind Spot
The rear-view mirror allows you to quickly glance through your rear windshield to see what is following your vehicle. Truck drivers do not have these mirrors due to the size of their truck cabs and the trailer blocking any view behind the cab; meaning they cannot see well directly behind their truck.
2. Side-view Blind Spot
The average vehicle has two major blind spots: one to each side of the vehicle slightly behind the front seats. A driver can see to the sides with peripheral vision or by slightly turning his or her head, but seeing behind and to the sides is difficult, and the rear-view mirror only allows a narrow view directly behind the vehicle. For semi-trucks, the side blind spots are even larger because the trailer is so long; the mirrors on the sides of a truck’s cab may not be able to reliably show the entire length of the blind spots on either side.
3. Passenger-side Blind Spot
Finally, be aware that the height of the average semi-truck also creates a blind spot directly in front of the truck and one lane to the right; the driver may not be able to see due to the passenger side of the large truck cab, so it is never wise to attempt to pass a semi-truck on the right.
Truck Safety Tips
- Be alert. You should never tailgate a tractor-trailer or drive too closely to one. Large trucks require more time and distance to slow down and stop compared to smaller vehicles; following too closely when the driver cannot see you could mean crashing into the back of the truck if the truck driver suddenly brakes.
- Be careful around the curves. Avoid the side of the truck when it’s making a turn. Due to the wide turn radius, and low visibility on the sides for truck drivers, the side of a big rig is easily one of the most dangerous areas to be, especially while turning.
- Be cautious and pass with care. You may be able to zoom around the big rigs and make fast safety decisions, but because of the size of a truck, their timing isn’t as forgiving. It’s important to be a good sharer of the road and semi-trucks with care. Signal early, pass quickly, and make room for the driver to react accordingly.
- Be patient and give yourself space. A good rule of thumb is to leave at least one car length of space in front of your vehicle and behind a leading vehicle for every 10 mph of speed. At 40 mph, for example, you should leave about four car lengths of space between your vehicle and a leading vehicle, but you may want to increase this for semi-trucks.
What to Do After a Blind Spot Accident
Large trucks are tremendously dangerous in some situations, and truck drivers have a higher duty of care to drive safely than drivers of smaller, less dangerous passenger vehicles. This does not automatically place liability for a blind spot accident on a truck driver, however. Several possible scenarios exist in which another driver is at-fault for a blind spot accident, or another driver could engage in dangerous driving maneuvers that lead to a blind spot accident. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a blind spot accident, an accident attorney from Knapp & Roberts can help you determine who is liable for your damages and how to go about filing a lawsuit.
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