Most vehicles have blind spots – breaks in a driver’s field of vision that keep him or her from seeing surrounding vehicles. In consumer vehicles, drivers can often adjust for the blind spot with a quick physical shift or visual aids such as extra mirrors. As the size of a vehicle increases, so does the number of blind spots. Semi-truck drivers cannot always compensate for their blind spots, so passenger vehicle drivers should use caution around larger commercial trucks.
Were you recently injured in a truck accident due to a semi-truck blind spot? If so, reach out to a Houston truck accident lawyer on what you should do next.
Where Are Semi-Truck Blind Spots?
Semi-truck blind spots vary slightly depending on the driver’s orientation and the vehicle design. In general, most truck drivers experience an inability to see:
- Vehicles directly behind the truck. Many commercial vehicle bumpers feature stickers that say something to the effect of, “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.” Unless the trailer features a rear-view camera, the driver has no ability to see around the trailer to the immediate rear of the vehicle. The blind spot in this area may hide the line of sight to one or two vehicles.
- Right behind the driver on both sides of the vehicle. This blind spot exists where a vehicle leaves the scope of the mirror and before it enters the driver’s peripheral vision. To the driver, a vehicle that rides consistently in this blind spot on the highway may seem non-existent. Riding in this blind spot can cause problems when a semi-truck wants to change lanes.
- Right in front of the truck. In the front of the truck, a driver may not see a vehicle in its own lane or in the lane to the front-right.
Commercial truck blind-spots significantly limit a driver’s vision. The spots are large and often called “no zones” or “no man’s land.” Professional drivers receive training to navigate the roadways while accounting for these blind spots, but passenger vehicles rarely consider a semi-truck driver’s limitations. When passenger vehicle drivers treat semi-trucks as they would any other vehicle, they increase the risk of an avoidable accident.
4 Tips for Staying Out of the Blind Spots
Whether you’re driving in town or on the highway, use these tips to improve visibility and safety for everyone driving around semi-trucks:
- Avoid tailgating a semi-truck. When you follow too closely, the truck can’t see you and you can’t see changes in the road conditions ahead. If the truck were to slam on brakes, you could slide into or underneath the trailer. Give yourself enough space to see around the truck and to react to the truck’s action. Try to maintain a distance of at least 20 car lengths between you and the truck.
- Pass with plenty of space. When you pass, make your presence known. Use your blinker and move quickly when driving along the side of the truck. Leave plenty of space between you and the truck when you merge lanes in front or back of the truck to ensure the driver sees you. Avoid decelerating until you gain a distance of about 10 car lengths between you and the truck.
- Try not to ride alongside a truck for too long. While sometimes unavoidable in stop-and-go traffic, passenger vehicles that ride consistently along the side of a semi-truck may sit right in a blind spot for miles at a time. Try to either move ahead of the truck or keep a safe distance in adjacent lanes to remain visible.
- Use caution at intersections. Semi-trucks need more space to navigate turns and can lose sight of many cars – especially on the right side. Vehicles traveling on the right side of a truck turning right should leave extra space for the truck to maneuver the turn. Trying to speed past a turning truck could result in a serious accident with an 18-wheeler.
Sharing the road with semi-trucks requires an added level of patience. Use caution while driving around semi-trucks to keep yourself out of harm’s way. A truck driver that can’t see you can’t take steps to avoid you.