Semi-Truck Blind Spots
September 22, 2015
Driving around large trucks can be a frightening experience for passenger car drivers. The sheer size and weight of these vehicles interfere with visibility of the roadway, one’s surroundings, other vehicles, traffic signs, and direction signs. If drivers are unaccustomed to driving around trucks, what to expect when passing can seem unpredictable.
Trucks are unlikely to disappear from our roadways any time soon. Trucking revenues were over $700 billion in 20141 and this figure grows every year. No matter how difficult it is to share the roads with trucks, their presence is here to stay.
Approximately 500,000 truck accidents occur in the United States every year, of which 5,000 (or 1 in 8) are fatal2. A truck is defined as a large trailer weighing 10,000 or more pounds.
It is a common misconception that truck drivers have superior visibility because their cabs sit higher than regular car seats; however, the hood of the cab hides part of the road in front of the truck, which compromises their ability to see other vehicles.
Many truck accidents are caused when a vehicle enters a truck’s blind spots. A blind spot is where a driver loses sight of other vehicles, and truck blind spots are called “no-zones”. Trucks have four no-zones, and following these simple guidelines may help prevent an accident:
- LEFT SIDE: If you cannot see the driver’s side view mirror, the driver cannot see you!
- FRONT: Do not drive in front of a truck unless you can see the entire front of the truck in your rear-view mirror.
- RIGHT: The blind spot on the right of a truck runs down the length of the trailer and extends out three lanes. If you pass a truck, always go to the left.
- REAR: A truck driver cannot see you if you are driving behind it. It is best to drive 20-25 car lengths (4 second following distance) behind a truck (more in bad weather). It is dangerous to pass a truck from a position too close behind it.
When passing a truck, a good rule is to do so only when you have a half mile of clear roadway ahead. Always signal clearly and early both when you are preparing to pass, and when you are re-entering your lane. Leave ample space in front of the truck to re-enter your lane, without having to accelerate or complete the pass in a no-passing zone.
Additionally, remember that a truck is much heavier than a car, and it takes twice as long for a truck than a car to stop. When driving in front of a truck, following too closely (tail-gating), slamming on your brakes, or stopping suddenly increases the chance of an accident. You should be able to see the entire front of the truck (or both headlights) in your inside rear-view mirror before you pull back in front of a truck.
Remember that trucks play an important part in the American economy. Following the above guidelines can help keep the roadways safe for all of us.