Safety group Road Safe America says one third of all 18-wheeler crashes can be attributed to blind spots, or areas where truckers can’t see nearby vehicles. Now you can learn how to be safe on roads traveled by such big rigs, tractor trailers, semi trucks or diesel trucks.
First, it’s important to know what a blind spot is and why it exists. The answer starts with the size of big rigs, which can be 70 to 105 feet long. From their cabin riding high in the front, and even with large side-view mirrors, truck drivers have limited visibility of the sides, front and back of such monstrously large vehicles.
Due to their enormity, diesel trucks do not have rear-view mirrors mounted above their dashboards. Such mirrors only would reveal the front of the massive trailer being towed behind the big rig. Plus, even side mirrors only can reveal a limited amount of space along the vehicles’ sides.
Not only that, but truckers riding high in their cabs may have trouble seeing low-riding vehicles right in front of them. Thus, the front, too, can be among big rig blind spots.
Average-sized passenger vehicles also have some blind spots for the driver, but 18-wheeler blind spots are far larger given the much larger size of the vehicle.
To educate the public about blind spots and other big rig safety elements, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched a No-Zone program in 1994.
The FMCSA describes No-Zones as areas where cars “disappear” from the truck driver’s view and where collisions are apt to happen, often in the form of “sideswiping.” In effect, a “No-Zone” is a blind spot.
Drivers can learn how to avoid blind spots and thus avoid accidents with 18-wheelers. One way to ascertain the location of a blind spot is to look for the big rig’s huge side mirrors.
If you can’t see the side mirrors, or if you can see them but can’t see the driver in the mirrors, then the driver can’t see you, either. In such cases, try to get out of the blind spot or “No-Zone” as quickly as possible.
Independently of looking for a trucker in a big rig’s mirrors, drivers can consider a large truck’s “No-Zone” or blind spot to have certain parameters. It is likely to extend about 20 to 40 feet on each side and toward the rear of the truck’s trailer, but even more so on the right side. Other common 18-wheeler blind spots are immediately behind the semi truck for up to 200 feet (remember: no rear-view mirrors) and immediately in front of the driver’s cab.
Besides being wary of blind spots, be alert when an 18-wheeler slows down. If it makes a wide turn, and if you’re driving in a blind spot, you may be in jeopardy.
Never tailgate a big rig truck, and don’t pull immediately in front of one, either. Due to its weight and mass, these trucks are harder to maneuver and take longer to brake than a passenger vehicle and could ram you from behind.
If possible, don’t drive alongside a tractor trailer for an extended time. If passing, pass a big rig cautiously but quickly, and always on the left — never on the right. The truck’s right side presents a larger blind spot than the driver’s side on the left, and big rigs also tend to make wide right turns and could hit your vehicle in the process. Always pass as efficiently as possible when passing on the left side.
Though new sensor systems in large commercial trucks are designed to warn drivers of possible crashes, many semi trucks aren’t yet equipped with the new technology. You can’t assume a big rig has special equipment to reduce blind spots, but rather must drive in a way to be wary of them.
If you or a family member was injured in an 18-wheeler accident, notify the truck injury lawyers at Jim Adler & Associates. You may be entitled to financial compensation.