Every vehicle has blind spots: that area that you just cannot see from the driver’s seat, especially with the quick glance most drivers use to make sure the space beside them has nothing in it before changing lanes or making a turn. Big trucks, however, have larger blind spots than smaller passenger vehicles. If you drive a large SUV or truck, you may have a blind spot large enough to lose a smaller car.
Big trucks can lose not only a small car, but also larger vehicles: vans, SUVs, even trucks hauling trailers. Truck drivers should be trained to check and know their blind spots. While truckers ultimately bear responsibility for any truck accident that occurs because they fail to notice a smaller vehicle in a blind spot, other drivers on the road can help prevent accidents by avoiding a truck driver’s blind spots and “no zones” on the road. If you have already been involved in a truck accident schedule a free consultation with Gomez Trial Attorneys to discuss your legal options.
Navigating a Big Truck’s No Zones
Big truck drivers sit up higher on the road, where they can more easily see the other vehicles around them. That does not necessarily mean, however, that they can see everything. Most big trucks have several no zones where truckers can easily lose track of smaller vehicles. A truck’s no zones also incorporate the area in which a big truck cannot stop safely if a car pulls over in front of it too abruptly.
Beside the Trailer
If you travel directly beside the cab of a big truck, the driver can probably easily look down and see you. On the other hand, if you travel beside the truck’s trailer, you may slip out of visibility quickly. When driving beside a truck, make sure you can see the driver’s mirrors clearly. Look for the driver’s reflection in the mirror: if you cannot see him, he probably cannot see you.
Directly Behind the Truck
When your car sits directly behind the trailer of a big truck, the driver cannot see you, either in his mirrors or by looking behind him. With a big trailer in the way, the driver cannot simply turn and take a look at the traffic behind the truck. When you sit so close to the truck that you cannot see the mirrors, the driver has no idea of your location. On the road, many drivers assume that traveling close to the rear of a truck won’t pose too much of a problem. After all, your passenger vehicle can probably stop much faster than the big truck. In reality, however, truck drivers may need to stop abruptly, making it difficult for you to stop your car fast enough. Small cars can even slide up under the back of the truck, causing serious damage to both vehicle and passengers. Truck drivers may also need to back the truck a short distance to safely turn or complete another maneuver. If the truck driver cannot see you, he may back into you.
The Front of the Truck
Most drivers assume that the driver of a truck can easily see other vehicles in front of him. Some small vehicles, however, may become invisible when directly in front of the truck. Even if the driver can see you clearly, however, the front of the truck still represents another zone. Big trucks require more time and, therefore, more distance to stop than smaller passenger vehicles. Even a truck driver paying perfect attention to the road needs adequate room to stop a vehicle that may weigh more than twenty times the weight of a passenger vehicle. Drivers should carefully avoid pulling directly in front of a big truck whenever possible.
7 Tips For Avoiding Truckers’ Blind Spots
Many drivers struggle to correctly identify a truck driver’s blind spots and safely navigate around them on the road. With these strategies, however, you can decrease the potential causes of truck accidents and keep both yourself and the truck driver safe.
1. Look for the truck driver’s mirrors.
When sharing the road with a big truck, look for the driver’s mirrors. Some trucks have bigger mirrors than others—and the type may depend on both driver preference and what the driver’s company offers. Larger mirrors may mean smaller blind spots, but they do not eliminate them. Look for the truck’s mirrors. Keep in mind that simply seeing the back of the mirror does not keep you safe. Instead, try to find the truck driver’s reflection in the mirror. If you can see him clearly, he can probably see you, too. If you cannot see the truck driver in the mirror, it could indicate that you have slipped into the truck driver’s blind spot.
2. Move through the truck driver’s blind spots as quickly as possible.
Sometimes, you just need to move through a truck driver’s blind spots: passing a truck moving slower than your preferred speed, for example. When you must move through a truck driver’s blind spots, however, wait until you have a clear stretch of traffic. Then, move smoothly through the blind spots without pausing. You do not need to speed to move through the truck’s blind spot; instead, make sure that you travel at a reasonable rate of speed, which will make it easier for the trucker to anticipate your movements.
As you share the road with a big truck, keep in mind that you need not travel directly beside a big truck, in its blind spots. When traffic allows, you can speed up and pass through those blind spots. If you cannot comfortably or safely drive at a high enough rate of speed to move through a truck’s blind spots, consider dropping your rate of speed so that you sit behind the truck, rather than directly beside it. These simple changes in your trajectory can make a big difference in your overall safety.
3. Signal your intentions clearly.
Most truck drivers pay careful attention to the road around them. They do their best to provide safe passage for passenger vehicles. Most truck drivers also understand the frustration that goes along with sharing the road with them and will do their best to stay out of your way if possible. To make it easier for trucks to navigate on the road with you, however, make sure you clearly signal your intentions. If you signal your intention to change lanes into a lane used by a trucker, for example, that trucker may slow down, back off, and signal you when you can safely move into his lane. Failing to signal, on the other hand, can make it more difficult for the trucker to predict your behavior, increasing the risk of an accident.
4. Allow plenty of room for big trucks.
If you have never driven a big truck yourself, you may not realize just how much space it takes to navigate. Not only do truck drivers need plenty of room to stop, big trucks take more room to turn than smaller vehicles. Truck drivers may also need more room to make right turns, since they often turn wide to make more of the road visible. Drivers often crowd trucks when they turn, assuming that open road means plenty of room for them. Unfortunately, this can quickly lead to accidents due to truck drivers who cannot see those vehicles as they move into their blind spots. Instead, stop your car further back and leave room for the truck driver to maneuver. Crowding the truck will not get you to your destination any sooner, especially if those actions result in an accident.
5. Pay attention when you have to sit in a truck’s blind spot.
Sometimes, traffic flows in a way that prevents you from getting out of a truck’s blind spot. The car in front of you might travel at a slower rate of speed than you initially anticipated, making it impossible for you to move through the truck’s blind spot and get on your way.
Meanwhile, you might not want to reduce your rate of speed: you do need to pass the truck, and the car in front of you holds the faster speed, even if not as fast as you might like; you cannot safely reduce your speed on a highway or interstate; the car behind you sits too close to allow for safe slowing.
When the flow of traffic makes it impossible for you to get out of a truck’s blind spot, pay careful attention! If you notice the truck attempting to change lanes, including a signal that the trucker plans to change lanes, tap your horn lightly to catch his attention. This may prevent the truck driver from mistakenly changing lanes on top of you.
In many cases, if you signal a trucker of your presence, the truck driver will acknowledge you by flashing his signal lights. Take note of that signal: it indicates the driver’s awareness of your presence and may indicate that he will pay more attention to your vehicle.
6. Help out when you can.
In many cases, you, as a passenger vehicle slightly behind a big truck, may have better visibility of the area beside the truck than the truck’s driver. If you notice a truck driver struggling to move his vehicle over due to tight traffic or difficulty viewing his blind spots, you can take several steps to help.
- Reduce your speed to get out of the trucker’s blind spots. If you cannot safely pass the truck, back up to travel behind him. Not only will this keep you from sitting in a truck’s no visibility zone, it will clear the way of any cars behind you, which cannot then pass you due to the large truck occupying the other lane.
- Signal the truck driver when he can safely move over. Flash your lights to let the truck driver know he can safely move his vehicle. Make sure you see adequate room in front of you for the entire truck. You do not want to back off so far that another vehicle in the truck’s lane tries to swerve in front, but you also want to leave adequate room for the truck to fit.
- Keep in mind that the truck driver may need to brake briefly or reduce speed to settle into the flow of traffic. In tight traffic, the truck driver may choose to move his truck over into a comparatively tight space. However, he may need to reduce his rate of speed to allow adequate stopping room when compared to the vehicle in front of him. Back off your speed and give the truck room to maneuver if needed. Try not to grow frustrated if the truck appears to slow down temporarily. Often, that speed will pick right back up once he has adequate following room.
7. Follow the rules of the road.
When surrounded by big trucks, many drivers suffer the temptation to ignore many of the common rules of the road. They may, for example, want to zoom through a red light to avoid having to wait behind a truck, or they may try to swerve in and out of traffic to pass trucks. No matter who you share the road with, however, following the rules of the road helps keep both you and other drivers and their passengers safer.
Your adherence to those simple rules can make your behavior more predictable and make it easier for trucks to keep track of you. Most of the time, speeding, running red lights, and ignoring stop signs will not get you to your destination significantly faster—and if you cause an accident with reckless driving behavior, it can make it take much longer. Check your own blind spots carefully: while you probably will not lose track of a big truck, you, too, can lose track of smaller vehicles.
What if You Are Still Involved in a Accident
Despite your best precautions, you may suffer an accident as you slide into a big truck’s blind spot. When you suffer serious injuries in a blind spot accident, you deserve compensation. Contact a truck accident attorney as soon after your accident as possible to help file your claim and begin the process of seeking the compensation you deserve.
Gomez Trial Attorneys
655 West Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101