One would assume that driving a truck gives a “high-ground” advantage when it comes to having a better view. However, trucks have more prominent blind spots than other vehicles.
Staying in these spots means the driver can’t see you, which becomes a risk for a traffic accident.
Truckers know these blind spots since they have received specialized training to drive the vehicle. Most “four-wheeler” drivers, however, do not know them.
Here are the four blind spots of a tractor-trailer. Learn how to give trucks the necessary space to have them keep you in their view. This will help keep you and other drivers safe on the road.
The Four Blind Spots of a Truck – Infographic
A blind spot in a vehicle is an area around the vehicle that cannot be directly observed by the driver while at the controls, under existing circumstances.
We’ve created an infographic detailing the four blind spots of a tractor-trailer being driven in a right-hand traffic situation.
- The left side of the cab, under the mirror;
- The right side of the cab, under the mirror and extending back,
- The front of the cab, extending 20 ft forward,
- The back of the trailer, extending 30 ft backward.
How to Remain Safe When Driving Near a Truck?
Knowing the blind spots of a truck is just half of the requirement for staying safe when driving near a truck.
Here are a few tips to help you maintain a safe distance and position near a moving truck.
Do Not Drive on the Truck’s Sides
As you can see from the infographic above, the riskiest areas are located on the sides of the truck. There are sections of the lane as related that are a blind spot when related to the truck. The most significant blind spot of a truck is located on the right side.
However, should you need to pass the truck, you should do it from the left side, and do it as quickly as possible. Signal your intentions to the trucker from a position outside of its blind spots, and pass the truck in an as quick manner as road conditions allow.
Pay Attention to The Truck’s Mirrors
The way mirrors work is if you can see the driver in the mirror, they can see you. But if you can’t see them, they can’t see you either. Therefore, if you can’t see the mirrors at all, you are in a blind spot of the truck and should move your vehicle as soon as possible.
Watch for the Truck’s Signalling Indicators
Since driving behind a truck means driving in a truck’s blind spot, maintaining distance is the highest priority. Watch for signals from the truck, like turn signals and brake light, so you can be prepared and have enough space to maneuver should the unexpected happen.
Loaded trucks tend to move slowly. Not many people can wait patiently behind such a vehicle, and they rush in trying to pass the truck, not being aware of the danger that represents. They are not aware that a truck can not maneuver as easily as a car.
Have respect when driving around a truck and apply extreme caution. Honking, aggressive acceleration, and trying to “squeeze through” won’t get you far – in fact, you might even distract the trucker and cause an accident.
When in Front, Make Sure There Is Enough Distance
Trucks have a long braking distance, so it is paramount to keep enough distance when driving in front of a truck. This means staying out of the front blind spot of the truck. When you can see the truck’s headlights in your rearview mirror, you are out of the front blind spot and are in a safe distance in front of the truck.
Tailgating is dangerous between cars, but with a truck, this becomes an even bigger hazard. Trucks do not have rearview mirrors, and the back blind spot of the truck means that they can’t see if there is a vehicle behind them. Additionally, when tailgating a truck, you don’t know what’s in front of them. To remain completely safe, employ the following practices:
- Be at least 30 ft behind the truck;
- Keep the truck mirrors visible at all times, so that the truck driver can see you too;
- Maintain an even bigger distance when the road conditions are adverse.
Be Careful When a Truck Is Making a Turn
Trucks often require more lanes to turn at an intersection, so trying to make a simultaneous turn with a truck can be extremely dangerous. When you are in this situation, it is wise to leave enough room for the truck and be aware of the truck’s lack of maneuverability.
Prepare Early when Passing a Truck
When trying to pass a truck, you will need to notify the driver that you will do that when you are outside of its blind spots. Show the intention to pass it when you are sure they are paying attention because once you start passing them, you want the driver aware of you when you enter their left side blind spot.
Move Quickly Out of Blind Spots
This should go without saying, but staying in the truck’s blind spots for a long time can be extremely dangerous. When the trucker loses control or tries to change lanes, if you are in its blind spots, the trucker won’t know you are there.
Whatever may be the case, the truck right side is considerable danger, so avoid passing the truck on its right.
Merge Further Away from the Truck
Since trucks have long braking distance, you should merge further away in front of the truck as compared to when passing a car. This will ensure that you are out of the front blind spot, prevents you from cutting off the truck, and gives the truck sufficient space to stop should you suddenly start braking.
What If You Are Not Aware of a Truck’s Blind Spots?
The likely scenario is an accident. Most common such accidents happen when a car drives in the truck’s blind spot, and the truck changes lane and doesn’t notice the smaller car, which results in a collision.
Other causes of collisions are when:
- A car is tailgating a truck, or a truck is tailgating a vehicle;
- One of the drivers is driving and braking aggressively or cutting off in lane;
- A truck driver fails to check their blind spot before changing lanes
- A car is staying in a truck’s blind spots for a prolonged time.
What Happens If You Are in a Truck Accident?
Since the truck is a massive machine, the accidents with a truck are rather disastrous. These accidents can result in serious injuries, colossal property damage, and a higher probability of fatalities than any other accident involving smaller vehicles.
Injuries that happen in a truck accident can range from several fractions, burns, spinal injuries, internal bleeding, amputation, and brain injuries.
Who Is at Fault in a Blind Spot Accident?
According to Aaron A. Herbert, P.C., “In most cases, liability for a blind spot accident will go to the driver that had the blind spot. A blind spot is typically not a suitable defense for crash liability since the victim could argue that another reasonable and prudent driver would have been able to work around the blind spot and prevented the accident. However, if two vehicles merge at the same time and collide, liability can be more difficult to determine. In this situation, an investigation may be necessary to determine which driver was in the wrong. The at-fault driver will be the one who did not have the right-of-way, in most cases. A portion of liability for a blind spot accident may go to both drivers depending on the situation.”