Large Trucks and Blind Spots

Large Trucks and Blind SpotsLarge trucks, big rigs, commercial trucks – no matter the name, they are massive vehicles. In fact, large trucks weigh in somewhere between 20,000 and 80,000 pounds, depending on the amount of cargo they’re hauling. Commercial trucks pose a variety of risks to the passenger vehicles around them on roads and highways. In addition to their large size and weight, trucks also have significant blind spots that can make it hard to spot vehicles close by.

Everyone on the road should be aware of blind spots. However, it’s crucial that truckers understand where blind spots are located on their vehicles. Truckers must operate their rigs in a safe and responsible manner, always taking these no-vision zones into consideration when passing, turning, or backing up.

How big are commercial trucks?

In addition to their weight, commercial trucks are also tall, wide, and long. The average dimensions of a truck and trailer are about 48 feet long without the cab, and can be up to a maximum of 80 feet with the cab. A semi-truck is between 13 to 14 feet in height. Because a cab and a trailer are two different pieces, a driver’s rear-view mirror is useless when the trailer is attached, which is almost always. Making things even more difficult, because a trucker’s cab is also so high up, it can also be difficult for the truck driver to see objects directly in front of the vehicle – like a small passenger car, motorcycle, or pedestrian.

Where are the blind spots on large trucks?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides an informative video demonstrating the blind spots on commercial trucks. When truck drivers don’t account for or use their mirrors to check these spots, they can cause major highway accidents. A commercial truck’s blind spots include:

  • Directly behind the trailer
  • Directly in front of and below the cab
  • The majority of the right side of the truck
  • The majority of the lower left side of the truck

If you are a driver sharing the road with a large truck, the FMCSA offers a few safety tips to remember:

  • “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.”

However, it is not up to other motorists to know how to avoid and prevent truck accidents. Truckers should know how to maneuver their vehicles and how to check for vehicles and objects before passing, changing lanes, turning, or reversing. Failure to do so can cause collisions and accidents with other cars, cyclists, or pedestrians.

What causes blind spot accidents?

Truck drivers must undergo special training to learn how to operate their vehicles, which includes identifying their truck’s blind spots and how to account for them. Truckers should know how to use their mirrors and other safety measures to check blind spots for cars and other vehicles that might be in the way before making a move. Even sudden acceleration or braking without looking can cause a tragic accident.

Although these types of accidents can happen for any number of reasons, the most common is driver negligence. Common causes include:

  • Tailgating; whether a truck is following another driver too closely or a passenger car is following a truck too closely. Trucks need much more time to brake and come to a complete stop. Crashing into the rear of a truck can be deadly.
  • Reckless driving; involving a trucker exceeding the speed limit, changing lanes without signaling or checking blind spots, or brake-checking other drivers.
  • Traveling in a truck’s blind spot; which means a trucker may not see a car for a long stretch of highway and believe it’s safe to change lanes. A collision can cause a multi-car accident.

Other examples of trucker (or trucking company) negligence that can result in a serious accident include:

  • Driving under the influence, while distracted, or drowsy
  • Failing to align and check all mirrors before embarking on a trip
  • Failing to check blind spots before turning, changing lanes, or reversing
  • Improperly installed, maintained, or repaired mirrors
  • Improperly installed or maintained crash avoidance systems
  • Failure to vet and train drivers regarding blind spot safety

Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys can work to determine the exact cause of your accident in a consultation – we can help.

What kinds of accidents might blind spots cause?

When a truck collides with another vehicle in its blind spot, a variety of serious accidents and resulting injuries can occur. In addition to the multi-car accidents we mentioned earlier, some of these types of accidents include:

  • Sideswipes; when a truck changes lanes without looking and hits a vehicle in another lane
  • Rearend accidents; when a truck is following another vehicle too closely and cannot see it in its front blind spot
  • Broadside collisions; when a vehicle passes or turns in a truck’s front blind spot and the truck crashes into the car’s side

Avoiding a Kansas City blind spot truck accident

All truckers have a responsibility to the public to operate their vehicles in a safe manner. However, as a driver, you can also take some steps to protect yourself as much as you can from dangerous trucks:

  • Avoid following large trucks too closely
  • Always pass commercial trucks on the left, as this is where truckers expect to see you
  • Do not follow big trucks too closely – if you can’t see them in their side-view mirror, they cannot see you either
  • Never hang around in a truck’s blind spot; do what you need to do and get out of the way
  • If you see a truck engaging in dangerous behavior and endangering others on the road, call the police from a safe place. Otherwise, note the trucking company’s number on the back of the truck and report the driver.

And, if you are injured in a commercial truck accident, contact the lawyers at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys. We can put our team and our resources to work to investigate how the accident happened and who (or what) was responsible. We will work to secure the financial compensation you need for your injuries and losses, while you take the necessary time to recover from your injuries.

To schedule a free consultation at our offices in Kansas City, MO, call 816-471-5111 or fill out our contact form. We also maintain offices in Lee’s Summit, Parkville, and St. Joseph, MO and in Olathe and Overland Park, KS.