One of the challenges of driving any vehicle is being able to see the areas close to your vehicle. Modern cars and trucks have rear view and side-view mirrors and technologies like back-up cameras to help ensure drivers avoid hitting nearby vehicles, people and objects. When you drive your vehicle, it is your responsibility to use these tools to drive safely.
This challenge is magnified for truck drivers because of the size and build of their vehicles. While drivers of passenger vehicles are often taught how to avoid being in the blind spot of a semi-truck driver, semi-truck drivers are and should be responsible for using their tools to ensure they are also driving safely. When they do not, accidents happen, and victims are often left with extremely serious injuries. Fortunately they can always turn to a truck accident lawyer to protect their rights and seek compensation.
What Are Blind Spots?
Blind spots are areas around a vehicle that are not visible to the driver–particularly through use of mirrors. Blind spots can be dangerous, as drivers may be unaware of vehicles around them when they change lanes or turn. Semi-truck drivers have a better view of what is in front of them as well as larger mirrors than passenger vehicles. However, they still have blind spots.
Semi-truck blind spots include:
- Directly in front of the truck’s cab for about 20 feet
- Directly behind the truck’s trailer for about 30 feet
- Along each side of the truck extending backward diagonally
- Immediately below and behind the driver’s window
Semi-trucks have larger blind spots than other vehicles. Drivers of passenger vehicles or smaller vehicles can more easily turn their heads to see what might be out their side windows, they have rearview mirrors, and they are more likely to use their mirrors to check their blind spots.
Semi-trucks have larger blind spots because:
- They lack rearview mirrors
- They are taller than cars, making it more difficult to see what is around them
- The average length of a semi-truck is 70 to 80 feet long, creating a large area where the truck driver has limited visibility
- Trucks with triple trailers can be more than 100 feet long, making their blind spots possibly the largest on the road
Truck drivers should understand these factors and know how to properly clear their blind spots when changing lanes, turning, or move their trucks. If truckers do not take these actions and cause injury, victims can often hold them liable for their injuries with the help of a truck accident attorney.
Common Causes of Semi-Truck Blind Spot Accidents
Many circumstances can cause a blind spot accident. Most of them can be reduced to the fact that the truck driver did not see the smaller vehicle when they were changing lanes or turning, which then caused them to collide with the other vehicle.
Common causes include:
- Vehicles are following each other in close proximity, whether the car is in front of or behind the semi-truck
- Aggressive actions of truck drivers such as hitting the breaks to encourage the driver to back off or cutting off another vehicle
- The truck driver’s failure to check their blind spots before changing lanes
- Truck driver fatigue
- Impaired driving
- Sudden lane changes
- Distracted driving
What Truck Drivers Can Do About Blind Spots
While drivers of passenger vehicles should be aware of a truck’s blind spots and stay out of them, truck drivers have a duty to take steps to reduce these blind spots and decrease the potential for an accident if a car is in their blind spot.
If they breach this duty of care, a truck accident lawyer can prove their liability in the accident. There are several ways truckers can reduce the risk of collisions caused by blind spots:
- Extra mirrors: Truck drivers can install extra mirrors. Mounting one on each side of the hood can decrease the size of the blind spots in the left and right lanes. Another mirror can be added to the passenger side to help the driver see traffic passing on the right side.
- Positioning mirrors correctly: The position of a truck driver’s mirrors can make a big difference in reducing their blind spots.
- Install accessories: In addition to mirrors, several safety accessories can be installed on a semi-truck to help prevent accidents caused by blind spots. These include audible tones, back-up sensors, wide-angle cameras, and fish-eye mirrors.
- Clear blind spots: Before changing lanes or otherwise maneuvering their vehicle, truck drivers should use their mirrors and other accessories to be sure their blind spots are clear. If they do not take this action, substantial accidents can occur.
Who Is Liable for a Semi-Truck Blind Spot Accident?
Despite the push for drivers of passenger vehicles to take care while driving in a trucker’s blind spots, truck drivers are often liable if there is a blind spot accident. If you are in a blind spot accident, the truck driver’s insurance company and their attorneys will likely argue that you are at fault for being in the truck driver’s blind spot. However, if the truck driver did not check their mirrors and clear their blind spots before maneuvering their vehicle, they could still be at fault.
For example, truck drivers usually swing to the left before making a right turn at an intersection. If the truck driver does not check to see if there is a vehicle on their right before making their turn, any smaller vehicles on the side could be sideswiped, crushed, or forced off of the road. In this example, the truck driver would likely be liable for the accident. If you were in a recent blind spot accident, a truck accident attorney can assist you as you seek compensation for your damages.
How a Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
Although passenger vehicle drivers do play a role, truck drivers should do everything they can to avoid blind spot accidents. If you recently have suffered injuries in a blind spot accident, you may be wondering what your legal rights are. Contact a truck accident lawyer who can review the circumstances of your accident, answer your questions, and discuss the viability of your case.
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