The Problem With Large Trucks and Blind Spots
If you’ve ever driven next to one on the highway, you know commercial trucks are massive vehicles. Most of us try to avoid them as much as possible due to their large size and weight – the average tractor-trailer weighs in between 20,000 and 80,000 pounds. Passenger vehicles are at risk of being involved in accidents with commercial trucks for a variety of reasons, but one of the most common is the issue of large trucks and their blind spots.
Even the smallest of cars have blind spot areas – that’s why it’s so important for all drivers to make use of their side view mirrors – but commercial trucks have blind spots that can encompass an entire side of their vehicle. Truckers must understand exactly where their blind spots are located and, more importantly, take these blind areas into consideration when maneuvering, passing, and turning their vehicles. When they fail to do so, they can cause serious truck accidents and injuries.
How big are trucks and tractor-trailers?
We know commercial trucks are big – they are tall, wide, heavy, and long. Just how big? The average truck and trailer can be between 48 and 80 feet long depending on the length of the trailer. Its average height is around 13 to 14 feet, and as mentioned earlier, a truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds depending on its cargo.
When the truck has the trailer attached, its rearview mirror is virtually useless. Further, because a trucker sits so high up in the cab, it’s also difficult to see directly in front of the vehicle. These are two blind spots right off the bat.
Where are a commercial truck’s blind spots?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) offers an illustrative video demonstrating blind spots on large trucks, which you can view here.
As you can see, commercial trucks have four major blind spots:
- Directly in front of and below the cab
- Directly behind the trailer
- The majority of the right side of the truck
- The majority of the lower left side of the truck
In their video, the FMCSA also provides some safety advice for driving near and around large trucks:
A commercial motor vehicle has large blind spots around all four sides. Take extra care in passing and being passed by large trucks and buses. Stay out of blind spots when a truck or bus is turning, backing up or changing lanes. Large vehicles need longer following distance to see vehicles behind them. If you can’t see the driver in his or her side mirror, the driver can’t see you.
Remember, however, it isn’t your sole responsibility as a motorist to prevent an accident. Commercial truck drivers should understand how to handle their vehicles, check their blind spots, and be alert for other cars, motorcycles, cyclists, and pedestrians. When they fail to drive in a safe manner and cause an accident, truckers should be held responsible for the injuries and damage they cause.
Why do blind spot accidents happen?
Truck drivers must undergo training and tests to earn a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Among other things, this training includes learning how to identify and account for their vehicle’s blind spots. Drivers can use their mirrors, backup camera technology, and even a passenger to help check blind spots before making a move that could otherwise cause an accident.
Blind spot truck accidents are most commonly caused by driver negligence. These actions include:
- Tailgating. If a truck is following another vehicle too closely, or a passenger car is following a truck too closely, both are at risk of a blind spot accident. Trucks may not see a small vehicle directly in front of them, or one directly behind. Any sudden stop can force the passenger car underneath the front or rear of the truck – commonly a catastrophic or fatal accident.
- Reckless driving. Exceeding the speed limit, changing lanes without signaling, tailgating, brake-checking, and other unexpected driver behaviors can result in blind spot accidents.
- Driving in a blind spot. It’s important to avoid driving in a commercial truck’s blind spot. If you must, do so as quickly as possible and move away. Lingering in a truck’s blind spot can lead the driver to believe the adjoining lane is empty and it is safe to change lanes, potentially causing a sideswipe accident.
Truck drivers and trucking companies may also be found negligent for a blind spot accident if our Columbus attorneys uncover issues like:
- Truckers driving under the influence
- Truckers driving while fatigued or distracted
- Misaligned or broken sideview mirrors
- Failure to check blind spots and mirrors before passing, turning, or backing up
- Missing or broken mirrors
- Failure to properly train or vet truck drivers on the rules of the road
The personal injury attorneys at Soroka & Associates, LLC can help when you or a loved one are injured in any type of commercial truck accident.
Types of Columbus blind spot accidents
In a passenger car versus truck accident, the car nearly always takes the brunt of the damage. Common accidents resulting from blind spot accidents include:
- Rear-end collisions, as we mentioned earlier, caused when a truck misses a vehicle in its front or rear blind spot
- Sideswipe accidents, occurring when a truck fails to notice a vehicle in an adjoining lane and attempts to switch lanes or turn, striking the other vehicle
- Broadside crashes, which happen when a car passes or turns in a truck’s front blind spot and the truck collides with the side of the vehicle
If you or a loved one are injured in a commercial truck blind spot accident, after seeking medical treatment, your next call should be to a skilled attorney for legal guidance. You are likely eligible to seek financial compensation for your losses, and you shouldn’t have to worry about insurance and paperwork while trying to recover from your injuries.
The Columbus truck accident attorneys at Soroka & Associates, LLC are here to help. We understand the complex nature of commercial truck claims and are ready to advocate for your rights. To find out what we can do for you, call us at 614-358-6525 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation. When we accept personal injury cases, we handle them on a contingency fee basis. This means that we get paid only if there is a financial recovery.