Most of us hear about blind spots and accidents and immediately think about truck drivers and their mirrors. But you encounter many more blind spots when you drive. More than 800,000 blind spot accidents happen each year, resulting in 300 deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Before we look at specifics, consider that a big rig truck is very different from a smaller passenger vehicle. To avoid a collision with one of these trucks, you should know where their blind spots are and how to avoid them. A truck driver can still fail to properly check their blind spots, resulting in a truck collision.
Intersections and Crosswalks
Drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians who find themselves to the right of a right-turning truck in an intersection are in danger because they are in the driver’s blind spot and completely invisible to the driver. When the truck does turn right, it is likely to hit the car or run over the pedestrian or bike rider.
Currently, engineers are working on creating a turn-assist product for trucks that will warn truck drivers of anyone in the right-hand blind spot and stop the vehicle.
Accelerating out of An Intersection
The blind spot in the front of the vehicle places pedestrians and small vehicles at risk of the truck striking them as it begins moving after stopping at a red light or stop sign. Although trucks start slowly, they can still do a great deal of damage if they strike someone in the intersection.
Making Right Turns
The driver must ascertain that no one is in an adjacent lane. The driver must also ensure that no pedestrians or bicyclists are in the crosswalk when they turn.
Making Left Turns
Left-turn accidents exhibit the driver’s failure to overcome a blind spot and then detect other drivers turning in adjacent lanes and other drivers, pedestrians, etc., who may be traveling in the blind spot behind the truck.
Although it seems counter-intuitive, one of the worst blind spots a truck driver has is directly in front of the truck. Because of their design, big rig trucks may have a blind spot that extends 20 feet in front of the truck. In other words, if you’re a small vehicle and a big truck is tailgating, its driver probably can’t even see you. So, if you stop suddenly, that truck may well run over your car.
When a truck changes lanes, it simply cannot see many of the drivers at the side in the lane it is entering. The large blind spots on the sides and in front of the truck mean that the truck cannot see much if any of the cars nearest to it, no matter how big its side mirrors are. Thus, without a trucker’s extreme caution, a lane change accident is highly likely.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says nearly 100,000 large truck crashes happen each year involving lane changes. More than one-third are preventable by using short-range radar to detect moving vehicles in the truck’s blind spots and alert the driver. Finally, if a truck near you puts on its turn signal and begins to move into your lane, always honk, so the trucker knows you are there.
Because trucks have a blind spot in the rear of the trailer, the driver can’t see other vehicles, pedestrians, or anyone or anything else behind the truck. Without backup camera technology or careful surveillance of the area before backing up, the driver can strike anything or anyone behind the truck.
Distracted or Fatigued Driver
A truck driver who is tired or distracted will have a reduced attention span and reduced concentration on the road. This lack of focus means that the driver may miss a driver entering one of the driver’s blind spots and proceed to hit the vehicle or pedestrian in that spot.
Driver Under the Influence
Like a tired or distracted driver, a driver under the influence will not have the judgment or skill they usually have. This lack of attention means that the driver can miss seeing another vehicle and crash into it.
Drivers Unfamiliar With the Road
A driver who is lost and focused on finding the way again will be paying attention to the GPS system or a map, not the actual traffic near the vehicle. Since the driver is likely to be traveling slowly for the place and conditions, they may miss cars or others in a blind spot, a tailgating vehicle, or others who might get hit in the truck’s blind spot.
How the Truck Driver Should Avoid Vehicles in the Blindspots?
The simplest way for a driver to get someone out of the rear blind spot is to slow down. Eventually, the other driver will pass the truck.
Some drivers install additional mirrors. These can help reduce the blind spots along the sides of the vehicle.
Newer trucks use technology to deal with blind spots. There are sensors, fish-eye cameras, and tones that sound when a driver nears a vehicle in the blind spot or when another vehicle enters the front or back blindspots.
Trucks struggle to pass other trucks. They often travel at the same speed, and it isn’t easy to build up the speed needed for passing. For the same kinds of reasons, it’s not easy for the other truck driver to slow down, and, if they can, they might create a hazardous situation when getting back up to speed.
A truck that quickly changes lanes may want to avoid a problem without slowing down. Keep on the watch for them and trucks moving around due to high winds or other factors.
Common Injuries from Blind Spot Accidents
As with all truck accidents, the injuries are usually severe for those not in the truck. It’s a case of physics – when 80,000 pounds hits 4,000 pounds, the smaller vehicle will lose.
That said, some of the common injuries are:
- Neck & Back Injuries – Neck and back injuries can be severe life-shattering injuries, particularly those that damage the spinal column. They can cause paralysis, loss of sensation, and loss of motor skills, any one of which can change your life beyond recognition.
- Lacerations from broken glass – A powerful truck accident can break the glass in your vehicle and those of others. With all that glass potentially flying everywhere, you can receive severe lacerations and resulting scarring and nerve damage.
- Traumatic Brain Injury and Concussions – Passengers in a vehicle hit by a truck often move around with tremendous force. If they hit their head or get hit by flying debris, they can receive a concussion or traumatic brain injury. These severe injuries can result in lifelong changes to personality and cognitive skills. Even brain trauma that a doctor initially deems “mild” can result in lasting and potentially fatal complications.
- Internal Injuries – Internal injuries can destroy vital organs and can cause internal bleeding that, if not stopped, can be fatal within just a few hours. If the victim survives, there may be lifelong complications from organ loss.
- Broken or Crushed Bones – Bones can fracture so badly that the victim needs an amputation or emergency surgery.
- Whiplash – This is a seemingly minor injury that – in reality – can cause chronic severe pain and loss of mobility.
- Burns and Scars – The explosions and fires common in truck accidents can lead to burns and scarring. Burns are extremely painful and slow healing wounds. They are prone to infections and may require frequent surgeries. The scarring can cause severe emotional distress among the victim, especially a young and attractive victim.
Trying to Avoid Truck Blind Spots
Drivers of any vehicle want to take care when passing and having trucks pass them. As we said, trucks have a lot of blind spots, and drivers should always try to stay out of the well-known blind spots, especially when a truck turns, backs up, or changes lanes. Observe these safety tips when driving near trucks, as they can minimize the chances of collisions. However, you cannot control a truck driver’s conduct, and truck driver negligence can still cause blind spot accidents no matter how safe you are.
Recognize the “I can’t see you” zones.
Trucks have huge blind spots on all four sides. If you look at their mirrors, you may see a sign that says, “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.” Try to make sure that you can see the mirrors if you’re near a truck. This caution will help you avoid the most likely blind spots for you.
But that’s only the beginning. A truck has huge blind spots. For example, because of the truck’s design, most truck drivers cannot see the first 20 feet in front of their vehicles. Similarly, they can’t see the 30 feet right behind them because they don’t have rearview mirrors. Even if you can see the driver’s mirrors, the driver cannot see what is to their direct left or right.
When you drive near a truck, try to figure out where their blind spots are. Once you know where they are, you can respect them and reduce the likelihood of an accident.
If you do become aware that you’re in a truck’s blind spot, try to slow down or speed up to pass the truck. Make sure that you allow enough room to get back into the truck’s lane without ending up in another of their blind spots. One way to do this is to look at the truck’s rearview mirror. If you can see the entire width of the truck’s cab in the mirror, you should merge safely. Always use your turn signal to let the truck driver and other motorists know you’re changing lanes.
If you’re a pedestrian, try to make eye contact with the driver. You and the driver will both know the other is there.
Pay attention to the brake lights when driving behind a truck. You can anticipate what they might do next. Also, never tailgate a truck. They simply cannot see you, and you are susceptible to an underride accident in which you end up under the car and, probably, severely injured.
Remember that big rigs require a lot of room to stop. Be careful cutting in front of one
Passing a Truck
Drivers attempting to pass a truck should take care. If the truck turns and you don’t want to wait for the driver to complete the turn, reconsider. Trucks may make very wide turns and cannot see vehicles beside or behind them. Also, the long trailer can hit you during that wide turn.
Avoid trying to pass a truck that is backing up. Most big rigs have a large blind spot behind the truck’s rear.
Be careful how close you get to the truck if it’s a windy day. Driving too close can force you into the truck’s side if the winds are high.
Do try to pass on the left if possible. The driver can see you better on the left,
Don’t use excessively bright headlights because you can temporarily blind the truck driver with the large side mirrors.
Avoid road rage and aggressive driving around big trucks—they will win in a fight.
A class example of don’t get too close is, don’t tailgate. If you’re tailgating, you are invisible to the truck driver. If the truck stops suddenly, you will likely be in an underride accident.
Anticipate Wide Turns
Remember that, as we said before, trucks make wide turns and can’t see you in their blind spots. Try to maintain a good distance from a turning truck.
Even with the safest driving possible, you can find yourself injured from a blind spot crash, and contact a truck accident lawyer right away if this happens to you.