Why Do Drivers Need to Know About Blind Spots on Tractor Trailers?
Due to the large size of tractor-trailers, there are areas surrounding the truck that the operator cannot see in their mirrors. These areas of limited visibility are known as blind spots or “no zones.” As the truck’s size increases, so does the size of the blind spots. The risks of a dangerous accident increase dramatically for vehicles within a truck’s blind spot because the truck driver may not notice a smaller car near them when they prepare to change lanes or turn. Knowing how to drive safely around a semi-truck can help drivers avoid serious accidents.
However, traffic safety is the responsibility of every driver on the road. While motorists should make every effort to avoid spending time in the blind spots of a truck, it is also the truck driver’s duty to take proper precautions and remain aware of the vehicles around them. If you’ve been injured in an accident in a truck’s blind spot, a knowledgeable Tacoma personal injury lawyer can help protect your legal rights and fight for the fair compensation you deserve for your losses.
Where are the Four Blind Spots on a Semi Truck?
The size and shape of a semi-truck result in several large blind spots for the operator. The blind spots are large enough that an entire passenger vehicle can be essentially invisible to the truck driver. While occasionally traveling in these areas may be unavoidable on busy highways, you should try to carefully and quickly change your position if you find yourself in any of these potentially hazardous locations:
- In front of the truck: Truck drivers cannot see vehicles less than 20 feet in front of the cab. To ensure you are far enough in front of a truck to be visible, always be certain you can see the truck’s headlights in your rearview mirror.
- Behind the truck: Due to the length of their trailers and the lack of a rearview mirror, truck operators cannot see cars less than 30 feet behind them. If you cannot see both of the truck’s side mirrors, you are likely driving too close. To give yourself enough time to stop if the truck brakes, you should leave a four-second gap between your vehicle and the back of the truck.
- Behind the mirror on the left side of the truck: The driver cannot see vehicles in an area extending diagonally outward from the mirrors to the back of the truck.
- Behind the mirror on the right side of the truck: The blind spot on the right side is similar to the left but can extend diagonally outward for two lanes due to the driver’s position.
How Can Truck Drivers Reduce Blind Spot Accidents?
Blind spots are a known hazard on semi trucks. While other motorists are responsible for being aware of these dangerous areas and avoiding them as much as possible, truck drivers also have a duty to drive cautiously and take steps to mitigate the risk of causing an accident.
In many cases, insurers try to blame the car’s driver for a blind spot accident. However, the trucker may be fully or partially liable if they were negligent and did not take reasonable measures to prevent the crash, including:
- Correctly positioning mirrors: Before getting on the road, truck drivers should check and adjust mirrors to ensure they are covering as much of their blind spots as possible.
- Installing extra mirrors to increase visibility: In addition to standard mirrors, trucking companies or drivers can install extra mirrors that significantly increase their field of vision and decrease the size of the truck’s blind spots.
- Utilizing available technology: Advancements in the availability of safety accessories, such as back-up cameras, sensors with audible tones, and cameras with wide-angle lenses make it easier for truck drivers to get the equipment they need to reduce deadly accidents.
- Carefully clearing blind spots: Mirrors and safety accessories are great tools, but they aren’t helpful unless the truck driver uses them. It is the driver’s responsibility to pay attention to the location of nearby cars and check their blind spots carefully before changing lanes, merging, or making turns.
What Steps Can Other Drivers Take to Stay Safe Around Semis?
It is vital for motorists to understand the dangers posed by the blind spots of a semi. Although it may be necessary to enter a truck’s blind spots from time to time, you should exit them as soon as possible to limit your risk of an accident. But with many different sizes of trucks on the highways, how do you know when you are driving in an unsafe location? A useful strategy recommended by the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) is to assume that if you cannot see the driver’s face in the truck’s side mirror, they cannot see you. Other safety recommendations from the USDOT include:
- When passing a truck, always make sure they can see your turn signal, then pass safely and quickly on the left-hand side of the semi.
- Never cut off a semi because they take much longer to stop than a smaller vehicle.
- Do not tailgate behind a tractor-trailer; not only are you in a blind spot, you risk serious injury if the truck brakes suddenly.
- Give trucks plenty of room to turn at intersections, and do not try to get past a truck with its turn signal on.
- Use extra precaution when merging near a semi truck because you may be in a blind spot.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help if You’ve Been Injured in a Blind Spot Truck Accident?
Truck accidents often leave victims with severe injuries, which result in hefty medical bills and long recovery times that prevent them from working. Although you may take every precaution while driving to avoid a truck’s blind spots, serious accidents can still occur if the truck’s driver does not act responsibly. Insurance companies may try to shift the blame onto you for a blind spot truck accident, but an experienced lawyer can fight for your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact South Sound Law Group today to schedule your free consultation: 253-383-3328.