The Dangers of Commercial Trucks and Blind Spots

The Dangers of Commercial Trucks and Blind SpotsWhether you call them big rigs, 18-wheelers, or semis, commercial trucks are massive vehicles. These types of trucks weigh in around at 20,000 to 80,000 pounds, depending on their cargo load. Besides being a potential highway hazard simply due to their size and weight, commercial trucks also have a number of blind spots around their vehicles, which can make it difficult to spot other motorists.

Although everyone on the road should be aware of the dangers of blind spots, it’s especially important for truckers to operate their vehicles in a responsible and safe manner that takes these hazards into account.

How big is a tractor-trailer?

In addition to their weight, commercial trucks are also tall, wide, and long. The average dimensions of a truck and trailer are about 53 feet long without the cab, and can be up to a maximum of 80 feet with the cab. A semi-truck is approximately 13.5 feet in height. Because truck cabs and trailers are separate, drivers don’t have a rear-view mirror to inform them of what’s happening behind them. And, because the driver cab is so high up, truckers can also have difficulty seeing objects directly in front of them.

Where are a commercial truck’s blind spots?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) uses a safety video to illustrate the locations of blind spots on semi-trucks. If a trucker fails to check or account for these spots, they can cause serious accidents with even more serious injuries.

Blind spots on a commercial truck are found in the following areas:

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

The FMCSA also adds the following safety tips for drivers sharing the road with semi-trucks:

  • “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, a trucker should know how to handle their rig and check their surroundings and blind spots before making any kind of maneuver, or they are at risk of causing a collision with another motorist, motorcyclist, or pedestrian.

How do St. Louis blind spot truck accidents happen?

Truckers are required to take special training to learn how to operate their rigs, which includes details on how to properly set and check sideview mirrors and blind spots. Regardless of whether they’re out on the highway or turning around in a parking lot, a truck driver must ensure the immediate area around their vehicle is clear before changing lanes, reversing, or sudden braking or acceleration.

Blind spot accidents can happen for a wide variety of reasons, but most often occur due to driver negligence. Some common causes of these types of crashes include:

  • Vehicles following each other too closely; whether a car is tailgating a truck or a truck is tailgating another vehicle
  • Reckless driving, where a driver is changing lanes without signaling or brake-checking
  • Lingering in a truck’s blind spot

Blind spot crashes can be attributed to a trucker’s negligence as well. Examples of trucker negligence can include:

  • When a trucker drives drunk, distracted, or fatigued
  • Failing to properly align sideview mirrors before starting a trip
  • Failing to check mirrors and blind spots before turning, reversing, or changing lanes

Negligence can also be assigned to the trucking company. For example:

  • Failure to install, maintain, or repair working mirrors
  • Failure to install, maintain, or repair collision avoidance systems
  • Failure to properly hire and train drivers regarding blind spot safety

Failure to check a blind spot can cause a variety of collisions and crashes.

What types of accidents can blind spots cause?

Truck blind spot collisions can result in different types of accidents, which can result in different types of injuries and damage. These accidents can include:

  • Broadside collisions, or T-bones, when a vehicle moves from a truck’s side blind spot to its front blind spot and the truck crashes into its side
  • Rear-end accidents, where a truck crashes into the back of a vehicle in its front blind spot, or a car crashes into the rear of the truck’s blind spot
  • Sideswipes, when a truck changes lanes or veers into a vehicle traveling in its blind spot

Can I avoid being in a St. Louis blind spot truck crash?

Although truckers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles safely, you can also take some steps to keep yourself safe from blind spot accidents.

  • Don’t follow commercial trucks too closely
  • Give a truck plenty of space when moving in front of them (meaning don’t cut them off)
  • Don’t hang around in a blind spot – get in and get out
  • Don’t pass a truck on the right; truckers expect you will pass on the left
  • Report dangerous truck driving; there is typically a phone number on the truck to report bad drivers. If not, you can call local or state police to report an unsafe truck driver.

If you or a loved one suffered injury in a commercial truck crash, talk to an attorney at The Hayden Law Firm. Our years of experience allows us to work effectively and efficiently with trucking companies and insurance companies, and we advocate for you every step of the way. Let us help you secure compensation for your injuries and losses. Call us today at 314-798-9942 to schedule a free, no-risk consultation. You can also complete our contact form. We serve the greater St. Louis area and Illinois.