Most drivers are familiar with the idea of a “blind spot” when driving, a space around the vehicle where neither eyes nor mirrors can reach to see a hazard such as a passing car, motorcycle, or even a pedestrian. But not everyone realizes that commercial tractor-trailer trucks (semis) have extensive blind spots, which can lead to severe crashes.
Here’s what you need to know about truck blind spot accidents, including how to drive safely around trucks, who is responsible when a crash happens, and how to get legal help if you have been hurt.
Truck Accident Statistics
Commercial tractor-trailer trucks (semis) are a common sight on our highways, as billions of dollars of freight cross the nation every year. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that there were 83,000 injury accidents involving large trucks and 3,598 fatal truck crashes nationwide in 2015, the majority of which involved two vehicles.
A fully-loaded truck weighs in at as much as 80,000 pounds or 40 tons. That is 20 to 30 times the size of the average passenger vehicle. With such a massive difference in size, any mistake, lack of care, or negligence involving a large truck can quickly turn fatal for other cars on the road.
Avoiding Large Truck Blind Spots
Drivers of passenger vehicles may not be aware of the true extent of the blind spots around a large truck, as the blind spots in a passenger vehicle are usually much smaller. A tractor-trailer has multiple blind spots that every driver on the road should be aware of, including:
- Behind the trailer. If you are following a large truck, you should allow a large gap between yourself and the back of the trailer. Semis do not have rear-view mirrors like passenger vehicles do, so if you cannot see the mirrors on the sides of the cab, the driver simply cannot see you, sometimes as far back as 200 feet—or even more. Though all trailers are required by law to have rear underride guards in case of rear-end accidents, a collision with a fully-loaded tractor-trailer can still be devastating.
- On either side of the trailer. Most trucks have blind spots on the left, but the right blind spot is particularly dangerous. It usually runs the full length of the trailer and the cab as well. The right blind spot can extend out as far as three lanes, making passing on the right a particularly dangerous situation. Trucks also require extra space on the right when making a right-hand turn. It is always best to avoid passing or even driving to the right of a truck.
- In front of the cab. The driver’s cabin of a semi is very high off the ground. Given most engine-forward tractor designs, there is a significant area directly in front of a truck where any hazards, including smaller vehicles, are blocked by the engine compartment—and are completely invisible to the driver.
By knowing where the blind spots are, you can do your part to avoid a tragic accident with a large truck. Blind spot accidents still may happen, though, despite your safe driving skills. So whose fault is it when there’s a crash?
Legal Liability in Truck Blind Spot Accidents
When getting licensed to drive a big rig, truck drivers are supposed to receive special training to account for the blind spots around large trucks and operate safely. If the driver ignored this training and operated the truck in an unsafe, reckless, or otherwise careless manner, he or she may be found liable for the resulting accident. Fatigue, haste to make shipping deadlines, or just plain carelessness on the road can cause drivers to make a mistake that can cost you dearly.
An experienced truck accident attorney can help you uncover the truth about what happened in the accident so that you can determine who is responsible, and seek the compensation that you are owed for your injuries in a court of law.
Get Help After Your Accident
If you have been injured in an accident with a tractor-trailer or other large commercial truck and it is not your fault, Wayne Wright LLP would like to help you. We make it our job to help victims of serious car accidents recover the costs of medical bills, rehabilitation, lost time and wages, pain and suffering, and more, and we are here for you. For a free, no-obligations consultation about your commercial truck accident in Texas, reach out to us by phone, email, or click the live chat box to speak with a legal professional today.