Avoiding Semi-Truck Blind Spots

The average driver believes she is safer than most when on the road. She claims that she drives reasonably, defensively, and appropriately most of the time or at least more often than not. Though studies continue to reveal that Americans pride themselves on their individual skills in a car, they are distrustful of others and consider the majority of motorists to be sub-par. This disconnect means that many see themselves as the measuring rod of driving abilities while in fact, they may fall short of being considered a motorist of even average skill.

Removing complacency from your daily driving habits is an expert-recommended way to sharpen and hone your skills. This means thinking about your actions and the effects that result from them, both for you personally and for others on the road. It also means refreshing your knowledge and continuing to learn about safety programs, tips, and advice that can help keep you safe and prevent a collision.

As semi-truck accidents are a very deadly reality in the Chicago area, it is a good idea to realize why these crashes take place and what can be done to avoid them.

Truck crashes occur for all the same reasons that car accidents do, including speeding, following too closely, driving while distracted, tired, or intoxicated, bad weather, and mechanical or tire failures, to name a few. However, one of the big risks that are faced by drivers near trucks is unique from cars due to the large size of a big rig. Blind spot truck accidents are a common issue on roadways and often are caused by actions of a trucker and actions of the driver of a car.

Blind spot collisions are so prevalent that in 1994, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration launched a new campaign aimed at educating the public about a truck’s “No-Zones,” or areas around an 18-wheeler where cars should not linger if possible. Due to the height at which a driver of a truck sits, the overall length of a typical trailer, and the lack of certain safety aids like a rear-view mirror, trucks have significant blind spots that can completely obscure a car if a car rides in one.

Generally, experts agree that there are four significant blind spots among semi-trucks that other drivers should note and avoid. The area immediately in front of the truck, the area immediately behind a truck, the area to the left of the driver’s side of the cab of the truck and just behind the cab’s side window, and the area to the right of the passenger’s side of the cab of the truck and just behind the cab’s window. No matter the mirrors used by a truck, these areas will be of limited or completely blocked visibility.

To avoid these areas, be patient. Trucks may be limited in their speed or their actions and cannot maneuver as quickly as other vehicles. To be as safe as possible, drive with this in mind and pass a truck only when it is safe to do so. Avoid riding in a blind spot and leave plenty of distance between your vehicle and the truck. If you must travel behind a truck, note the mirrors outside of the cab. Whenever possible, make sure you can see both the mirror on the driver’s side and on the passenger side of the cab. If you cannot see the mirrors, a truck driver cannot see you, meaning that you are in the blind spot behind the rig and potentially at risk for a crash.

Similarly, if you are traveling in front of a truck, make sure there is plenty of space between you and that vehicle. Avoid the temptation to cut over in front of a truck too soon after passing as this will leave you in the truck’s blind spot and make you impossible to see. Plus, if you are too close to the front of a truck and a hazard appears in the roadway, the truck may not notice you slowing or may not be able to stop in time, potentially leading to a rear-end collision.

Realizing that a truck must take wide turns is important so that you can avoid the areas immediately surrounding a semi when necessary. If you notice a truck turn on its turning signal, give that vehicle extra room to maneuver as it may be necessary for a trucker to use a swinging turn. Do not crowd a truck and instead slow down, providing extra space if necessary.

Finally, if you feel threatened by a truck, use your horn to alert the truck to your presence. It is possible that a truck driver initiated a turn, lane change, or other maneuver while unaware of your presence due to limited visibility and the use of a horn may prevent a crash from happening.

If you are involved in a truck accident in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois, know that you may be entitled to payment for your damages. The personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. are standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call toll free at (855) 529-2442 or locally at (312) 924-7575 where we will offer you a free case consultation without obligation.

At Abels & Annes, P.C., we believe in fighting for victims’ rights and if you were hurt, we want to fight for you.

Prior Blog Entry:

Why Chicago Bicycle Safety Matters, Even if You Don’t Ride, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published December 3, 2015.

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