Brian White | June 22, 2021 | Truck Accidents
Commercial truck drivers must meet many qualifications for a commercial driver’s license in Texas. Candidates must pass drug and alcohol tests, meet medical standards, and pass a written and road test.
But driving a semi-truck and trailer combination is difficult. Even the most qualified and best-trained drivers can be involved in a truck accident.
You can help truck drivers to avoid accidents by remaining aware of the limitations of semi-trucks and trailers. This includes understanding their stopping distances, maneuverability in traffic, and blind spots.
We’ve compiled information about blind spot truck accidents and what you can do to avoid them.
Why Do Blind Spot Truck Accidents Happen?
Blind spot accidents happen when a semi-truck collides with a vehicle hidden from the driver’s view. This typically happens when the truck driver changes lanes or swings wide for a turn. The truck collides with the side of the vehicle or hits it at an angle as the truck moves into the vehicle’s lane.
A few factors often cause blind spot accidents, including:
Length of the Truck
Every vehicle has a blind spot to its sides and rear. For passenger vehicles and pickup trucks, a rearview mirror eliminates the blind spot to the rear, while side windows help drivers see into their blind spots on each side. Turning your head to check your blind spot through your side windows can substantially reduce the risk of a car accident.
But semi-trucks do not have a rearview mirror or side windows around the trailer. As a result, side mirrors provide the only way for a truck driver to check the truck’s blind spots.
Manufacturers place large, curved side mirrors on trucks to give truck drivers a more complete view of their blind spots. But the blind spots of a fully-loaded semi-truck are huge. In Texas, a semi-truck can pull a single trailer up to 59 feet long or two trailers each up to 28.5 feet long. This means that the total length of the tractor-trailer combination will often run 75 to 80 feet.
You might recall from driver’s education that a vehicle’s blind spots extend like a triangle to each side of the car. This is the area the driver cannot see without turning to look. A truck driver’s blind spots are similar but run up to 80 feet along each side of the semi-truck.
In unpopulated areas, truck drivers need to keep track of fewer vehicles. In heavy traffic, passenger vehicles continuously dart in and out of lanes. They also come up from behind or from the sides to try to pass slower-moving traffic.
If a vehicle maneuvers from a few lanes over and settles in next to a semi-truck, the truck driver might not have seen the vehicle approach. The truck driver might maneuver into the lane without even knowing a vehicle was there.
Dangerous Driving Habits
Many drivers involved in blind spot truck accidents contributed to the accident with their driving habits. Some of the behaviors that increase the risk of a blind spot accident include:
Driving in the Blind Spot
Drivers sometimes get complacent and ride directly in a truck driver’s blind spot. Passing through a truck’s blind spot is often necessary, but you should not ride in the blind spot.
Passing on the Right
The blind spot on the right side of a truck is much larger than the blind spot on the left side of the truck. Since the driver sits on the left side, the driver has a better view along the left side of the truck. Looking across the cab of the truck to the right-side mirror limits how much a truck driver can see along the right side of the truck.
If you pass on the right, you create two problems. First, a truck driver might not expect a passing car on that side. Road conventions dictate that you should pass on the left. Second, you spend more time in the truck’s blind spot when you pass on the right because the right-side blind spot is larger.
Remember that a truck driver has no rearview mirror. Some newer trucks have a rearview camera. But you should assume that a truck driver cannot see anything directly behind the trailer. By tailgating, you increase the risk that you could get caught under the trailer if the truck driver needs to make an emergency stop.
Passing a Turning Truck
You have probably seen the sign on the back of some trailers warning drivers not to pass a turning truck. Many drivers fail to understand that a truck needs to swing wide to make a turn. They see the gap along the side of the truck and try to pass the truck as it swings a wide turn.
The truck driver often cannot see when drivers try this because they pass right through the truck’s blind spot. As a result, the truck driver will continue the turn and collide with the passing vehicle.
Visibility can play a part in blind spot accidents. Darkness, glare, and poor weather can limit a truck driver’s ability to see the blind spots in the truck’s mirrors.
Avoiding Blind Spot Accidents
Truck drivers and motorists can reduce the risk of blind spot accidents by:
Impatience leads to many of the behaviors that increase the risk of a blind spot accident. Passing on the right, tailgating, and darting in and out of the blind spot can substantially increase your accident risk.
Remember that a truck driver cannot see you unless you can see the driver’s face in the truck’s side mirrors. When you pass a truck, quickly pass on the left so you spend as little time as possible in the blind spot. Never ride in a truck’s blind spot.
Compensation for Blind Spot Accidents
You and your injury lawyer could have a difficult time holding truck drivers, their employers, and their insurers liable for a blind spot accident. If you contribute to the accident by driving in a truck driver’s blind spot, a court or insurance company will reduce or deny compensation for your injuries.