In 2015, accidents involving large trucks took 3,598 lives and injured 83,000 more, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
While it may seem that a driver of an 18-wheeler may have a significant sight advantage over other passenger cars because of its height, the opposite is actually true. Commercial trucks have big blind spots and if you’re driving right beside one, you could be seconds away from a serious accident.
Your New Orleans attorneys at Cardone Law Firm take great pride in fighting for those who have, unfortunately, been involved in a large truck accident. We have been around long enough to see many cases where accidents could have been avoided if the driver of the semi-truck would have properly considered their blind spots. Because they have very limited vision of what is going on around them, drivers should be cautious and take the following information into consideration when driving near an 18-wheeler.
Commercial truck drivers are trained but accidents can still happen.
All commercial truck drivers receive special training and must pass certain examinations to legally get their license to drive a big rig. Part of this training covers how to account for the blind spots of their large trucks.
If the driver ignores their blind spot training and operates the semi-truck in an unsafe manner, he or she may be found liable for causing the accident.
Avoid tailgating and following too closely.
Tailgating is dangerous, no matter what type of car is ahead of you. When you’re tailgating behind a big rig, you’re practically asking for an accident to happen.
The driver of the big rig cannot see you if you are following within 30 feet of the trailer and it is near impossible to anticipate anything that may cause the big rig driver to brake in the middle of the road.
Even then, a commercial vehicle takes 40 percent longer to complete to a complete stop. That’s why it’s best to stay at least 5 seconds away from the back of the trailer, estimated at about 20 to 25 car lengths away, in order to give yourself a safe amount of time to react to whatever the driver is doing. Give yourself more space if the weather is poor.
Take care when passing the truck.
Blind spots on the sides of a big rig can extend into multiple lanes, so when passing them, make sure:
- You signal early.
- You pass by quickly to avoid his or her blind spots.
- If you can’t pass by quickly, fall back a little so that he or she can see you again.
- You understand that if you drive a smaller vehicle like a smaller car or motorcycle, you may experience some turbulence when moving from behind a truck.
A good rule of thumb is if you can see the driver in his or her side mirror, he or she can see you. If you can’t, you’re in a blind spot, also known as “no zone.”
Give yourself plenty of room when merging in front of a large truck.
When you are passing by and merging into the lane a large commercial truck is in, make sure that in the reflection of your rear view mirror you can see the whole front of the truck and its headlights.
The hood of most commercial trucks is rather large and conceals part of the road in front of them. Giving them enough space allows you to merge safely without cutting him or her off and causing them to brake suddenly, endangering yourself and anyone behind.
Avoid the right side of the truck when it is making a right turn.
18-wheelers need a lot of room when making a right turn. Sometimes they need two lanes to do it.
Trying to pass by in the gap it leaves in the lane when turning right in order to make your right puts you in his or her blind spot, and increases your risk of an accident. Just don’t do it. These vehicles weigh 20 to 30 times more than most passenger cars, and risking this turn could cause you harm.
Patience is key.
Driving near these huge trucks can cause a little bit of anxiety and other hassles but patience must be practiced. Shaving off a few seconds of time to make it to your destination isn’t worth the risk of injury or death trying to pass by an unaware truck driver.
Even when you’ve done everything right, an accident can still happen. If it does, Cardone Law Firm is the light at the end of the tunnel.
Even if you have taken and practiced all of these recommendations, an accident can still happen if a commercial truck driver is acting negligently. If that happens, you don’t have to fight alone. With over 40 years of experience, Cardone Law Firm has squared off against many trucking companies and fought tooth and nail to get our clients the recovery they deserve.