Most people still remember learning to drive and obtaining a driver’s license. After all, it’s a major rite of passage in American life. The process includes two major components. First, there is the actual practice of physically operating a motor vehicle. Second, one must study and learn the rules of the road and pass a written examination.
One especially important topic that is stressed throughout the process is awareness of a driver’s blind spots. We are taught strategies to deal with the issue to make sure that we keep ourselves and other motorists safe. Nevertheless, most drivers have experienced moments of fear after almost moving over on a vehicle hidden in a blind spot. Unfortunately, some drivers do not stop in time and cause an accident.
But what about drivers of tractor-trailers and other big trucks? Do they also have blind spots? And if so, how dangerous are they? Finally, what should the driver of a passenger vehicle do for protection when driving near semi-trucks? We will answer all of those questions in this article.
What Are Trucking Blind Spots?
All motor vehicles have blind spots. They are the areas around the vehicle that the driver cannot see, even when using the vehicle’s mirrors. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA” – a part of the Department of Transportation), commercial vehicles have four blind spots – one on every side of the vehicle. Trucking Watchdog says that these blind spots are “big” for semi-trucks.
The Dangers of Semi-Truck Blind Spots
Commercial truck drivers cover millions of miles crisscrossing the United States. As passenger car drivers, we encounter them almost daily. Like all drivers, they need to make maneuvers such as turning, changing lanes, and passing other vehicles. If a truck driver is not careful and does not know that a vehicle is in his or her blind spot, an accident can result.
According to CDL Life, citing the Department of Transportation, trucking blind spots cause approximately 400,000 motor vehicle crashes every year in the United States. In excess of 150,000 of the accidents result in a fatality. Many others result in serious bodily injury.
How to Protect Yourself
The most important factor is to know where a truck driver’s blind spots are located and to avoid them. This generally means not driving beside or too close to the truck and giving the truck plenty of room to change lanes and turn.
The FMCSA advises drivers to remember that if you cannot see the driver of the truck in his or her side mirror, the driver similarly cannot see you. Of course, you are much safer when truck drivers can see you and know where you are. The FMCSA provides a helpful graphic depicting where to drive to stay out of a truck’s blind spots.
Who Is Liable for Accidents Caused by a Truck’s Blind Spots?
Truck drivers are required to exercise reasonable care when driving. Generally, truck drivers should be aware of blind spots and take precautions to avoid accidents. As a result, truck drivers are found liable for many accidents resulting from blind spots.
Of course, every accident has its own circumstances that must be evaluated. Sometimes, only the truck driver is negligent. Sometimes, a passenger car driver may be responsible. In some cases, both drivers share the responsibility. If you are involved in an accident with a truck, talk to a lawyer to discuss liability and damages. Sometimes, a complicated investigation is required.
Call with Questions
If you have been involved in an accident with a big truck, you will undoubtedly have questions. Trying to deal with medical and health concerns, insurance policies and adjusters, property damage, and legal issues can be overwhelming. The experienced Oregon truck accident attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield are familiar with all of these issues and would be happy to answer your questions. Please call us for a free consultation.