In 2016, 475,000 collisions involving large trucks were reported to the police, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Among those crashes, 104,000 collisions resulted in injuries and 3,864 resulted in fatalities. According to data from the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, which was a three-year study of truck crashes, the FMCSA found that surveillance issues, which occur when truck drivers fail to check their blind spots, were the cause of collisions in 12 percent of the cases in which the truck drivers were at fault. It is important for truck drivers and other motorists to understand blind spots for large trucks so that their risks might be mitigated. If you are the victim of a collision that occurs in a semi truck’s blind spot, contact the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave for assistance as you seek to recover compensation.
Understanding Blind Spots for Large Trucks
Because of their size, large trucks have operational limitations that smaller passenger vehicles do not have, including large blind spots. While other vehicles also have blind spots, they are much smaller than the blind spots for large trucks.
Large trucks have blind spots around all four sides of the vehicles, according to the FMCSA. The blind spots in front of the cab extend 20 feet in front of them while truck drivers cannot see other motorists within 30 feet of their rears. On the left, the blind spot for large trucks extends across one lane. The largest blind spot for trucks is on the right and extends across two lanes of traffic. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t see a truck driver’s mirror when you are behind the truck, the driver cannot see you.
Why It Is Important to Avoid Blind Spots
When you drive in a truck’s blind spots, the driver is unable to see you. This increases your risk of a serious and perhaps even fatal collision.
You should avoid driving next to a truck for a long time without passing. You should also stay far enough back from a truck that you can see the driver’s mirrors, and you should never pass on the right. When you pass, do so quickly. Spend as little time as possible driving through the truck’s blind spot.
Legal Responsibilities of Truck Drivers
Truck drivers undergo special training to get their commercial driver license (CDL). A portion of the CDL training focuses on the drivers’ use of their mirrors, signaling, changing lanes, and making turns. The CDL Manual includes these directions regarding blind spots for large trucks:
- Check and adjust mirrors before driving.
- Make regular checks of your mirrors to stay aware of where other vehicles are around you, and to see if they move into your blind spots.
- Use mirrors to spot overtaking vehicles.
- Check mirrors before changing lanes, after signaling, right after starting the lane change, and after you complete the lane change.
- When merging, check your mirrors to be sure the gap in traffic is large enough for your truck to safely enter.
- Change lanes slowly and smoothly so that other drivers have a chance to change lanes, honk the horn, or otherwise avoid your truck.
While all truck drivers must pass a test to get their CDL license, some still fail to check their mirrors and to change lanes safely despite the training that they have received. This increases the likelihood of a collision.
Legal Responsibilities of Other Motorists
Like truck drivers, other motorists have legal responsibilities when they are dealing with blind spots for large trucks. Passenger vehicles are supposed to avoid following large trucks too closely and should stay far enough back that they can see the trucks’ side mirrors. When other motorists want to pass large trucks, they are never supposed to do so on the right. Instead, other motorists should pass trucks in the left-hand lanes so that the drivers are likelier to see them.
Motorists should avoid remaining in the lane next to the semi-truck and should instead get around them quickly. When they prepare to re-enter the lane in front of a large truck, motorists should make certain to give the truck plenty of room and avoid cutting them off. Drivers who are preparing to pass large trucks should always signal their intentions with their left turn signals. When they prepare to re-enter the lanes, they should again signal with their right turn signals.
Blind spots around large trucks are areas that pose higher collision risks and should be treated carefully. Truck drivers and other motorists should all make certain to check the truck’s blind spots and to signal their intentions. By observing safety rules for blind spots, passenger vehicle drivers and commercial truck drivers may avoid blind spot collisions.
Have you been injured in a collision involving a semi-truck’s blind spot? Or has your family member been killed in a crash with a semi-truck? You might benefit from a consultation with the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave. For a confidential case evaluation, contact us online.