The safest drivers understand that other drivers aren’t perfect, so they take steps to practice defensive driving. One critical part of defensive driving is learning to avoid other drivers’ blind spots.
While defensive driving is important to practice near any vehicle, it is especially critical when around large trucks. Because of a semi truck’s overall size and length, they have more blind spots than other vehicles. Also, because semi trucks are obviously larger than other vehicles, getting in an accident with one can be especially destructive and costly. For both these reasons, it is important to know and be able to avoid a trucker’s blind spots.
Where Are a Trucker’s Blind Spots?
Most typical automobiles have just two small blind spots, located just outside of each side of the vehicle. Trucks are a far cry from your average sedan or SUV, however. As demonstrated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truckers have four major blind spots. A truck’s blind spots are larger than other vehicles’ blind spots. In addition, a trucker’s blind spots are somewhat irregular and change massively when the truck makes a turn.
The Front Blind Spot
A trucker’s first blind spot is in front of the truck cab. Because of the height of the cab and the truck’s engine, the front blind spot extends out about 20 feet ahead of the front of the truck. The size of this blind spot makes it possible for small vehicles to go completely unnoticed if they are just ahead of the truck. Furthermore, trucks require much more time and space to slow down, so you may be creating a recipe for disaster if you cut in front of semi-trucks on the road.
Side and Rear Blind Spots
Another one of the trucker’s blind spots is on their right. Because truckers sit on the left of the vehicle, their right blind spot is much larger than the blind spot on their left. Consequently, a trucker’s right blind spot is about the length of the truck’s entire trailer and extends out about two lanes to the right. Depending on where the trucker’s mirrors are, you may be outside of this blind spot if you are driving just to the right of the very back of the trailer. Nonetheless, you should still exercise extra caution whenever you are driving on the right side of a semi-truck.
The truck’s left-side blind spot is much smaller. This blind spot extends out to the left about one lane and back from the left door of the truck’s cab to the midway point of the tractor-trailer. A truck’s final blind spot sits right behind the truck’s trailer and extends out about 30 feet behind the trailer. To avoid this blind spot, make sure that you maintain at least two car lengths behind a semi truck’s trailer.
Outside of these specific blind spots, the best rule-of-thumb to follow is this: If you cannot see the driver’s face in one of the truck’s mirrors, then the truck driver does not see you.
Avoiding a Trucker’s Blind Spots in Special Situations
Now that you know the basic size and location of a trucker’s blind spots, you can stay away from them while passing them or being passed. However, you should keep several other tips in mind.
Rule #1: Only pass trucks when on a straight roadway
Never pass a truck when it is about to make a turn. For one, trucks require extra time and space to turn successfully. Moreover, a truck’s blind spots change when they turn because the trailer pivots where it connects with the cab. This means that on a left turn, a truck’s left side-view mirror will reflect only the left side of the trailer. The trucker will have absolutely no ability to see any cars to the left of the trailer. At the same time, the trucker’s right side-view mirror will show vehicles that are two or three lanes away, but it will not show vehicles that are immediate to the right of the trailer.
Rule #2: Pass trucks on the left
Because a truck’s right-side blind spot is so much larger than the one on the left, it is safer to pass a truck (or be passed by one) on the left. Only pass on the right if necessary.
Rule #3: Stand Out
Even if you are not in one of the trucker’s blind spots, you should exercise caution. Truckers drive for many hours on end for hundreds of days each year. So trucker fatigue is an unfortunate reality. Take steps to make yourself stand out to fatigued truckers by keeping your vehicle’s lights on. If you are driving a motorcycle, make sure you wear bright colors. Finally, make sure you always pass trucks quickly. The less time you are in a truck’s blind spots, the safer you will be.
Rule #4: Give Semi-Trucks Extra Space
As we’ve mentioned before, trucks need more time and space to turn. They also require more time to speed up or slow down. That means you should never merge in front of a truck unless you are at least two car lengths ahead of them. If you don’t give the truck enough space when merging in front of them, the truck may either crash into your car without seeing you at all or be unable to stop in time to avoid a collision. Similarly, give semi-trucks a wide berth when you are passing or following them on the road. Finally, make sure you pay attention to a truck’s brake lights and turn signals.
Need to Contact a Kentucky Trucking Accident Attorney?
No one expects to get into an accident with a semi-truck. Yet the unfortunate reality is that even the safest drivers can get into car and truck accidents. When that happens, surviving the accident can be just the first part of a longer and more difficult journey. Hospital bills, lost work, and other damages can make the road to recovery a long and expensive one.
If you’ve been in a truck accident, don’t let your rights be trampled on by big insurance companies or other drivers.
Instead, let Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC, help you stand up for your rights. We have the experience and knowledge to help you obtain the compensation that you deserve. On top of that, we have won several awards for being one of the best injury law firms in Louisville.
Contact our lawyer online or give us a call at 502-791-9000 to get started today.