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Involvement in any type of accident with an 18-wheeler is a terrifying experience for drivers and their passengers. The sheer size of the 18-wheeler makes the potential for catastrophic damage and injury high. An accident occurring due to an 18-wheeler's blind spot can be a particularly frightening experience because often the other driver will realize what is happening but have little chance of avoiding it.
The Dangers of 18-Wheeler Blind Spots
Blind spots are common on a wide variety of vehicles, including standard passenger vehicles like cars, small trucks, vans, and SUVs. The major difference is that, with a passenger vehicle, the blind spots can be completely, or almost completely, eliminated with the successful positioning of side-view mirrors. By contrast, an 18-wheeler or big rig truck is often so large that a blind spot may run the entire side length of the vehicle and span multiple lanes. This means there is a huge area around the truck in which the truck driver simply cannot see other vehicles.
Further complicating matters is the fact that the construction of 18-wheelers makes the drivers less able to compensate for poor visibility than the drivers of passenger vehicles. For example, even with poorly aligned mirrors, in most cases, people driving cars can simply turn in their seats and manually look to see if another driver is riding in the blind spot. By contrast, if truck drivers turn in their seats all they will see is the back of their cargo cabs.
Additional trucking industry hazards may exacerbate the problem of blind spots. For example, the trucker may not have gotten adequate rest or have already driven very long distances, making him or her tired and more likely to forget about a vehicle that has entered a blind spot. Poor training or improper upkeep of the vehicle can also result in the truck driver having more difficulty avoiding an accident. Heavy traffic and dangerous weather conditions are also a major threat.
If you've been the victim of a blind spot crash, call Dugas Law Firm at (409) 226-0990 or contact us online to schedule a free case consultation. We are available to provide assistance in either English or Spanish.
Where Are the Blind Spots on an 18-Wheeler?
Knowing the most common locations for 18-wheeler blind spots can help other motorists be more vigilant in avoiding them.
Naturally, blind spots will vary somewhat from truck-to-truck, but common blind spots include the following:
- In the front – Because big rig trucks are so tall there is a large blind spot in front of the truck for most trucks. This blind spot may extend approximately 20 feet in front of the truck.
- On the left side – The left edge of the cab running down the length of the truck is another blind spot. This blind spot extends outward from the truck and can extend nearly three lanes of traffic with visibility and the size of the blind spot varying.
- On the right side – The right-side blind spot is basically a mirror image of the left side blind spot. It begins around the edge of the cab and extends back for the length of the truck, spanning about three lanes wide.
- In the back – The blind spot behind the truck extends out approximately 30 feet from the rear of the truck.
Tips for Avoiding Blind Spot Accidents
One of the main things for other motorists to bear in mind when they are traveling next to an 18-wheeler is that the big rig truck is not like a regular passenger vehicle. Cutting in and out of traffic, following too closely, and passing on the right are all dangerous, even when the other nearby vehicles are passenger size. However, with 18-wheelers these practices are much more dangerous and could easily result in major, even fatal, accidents.
Remember the following tips when driving near 18-wheelers:
- Don’t tailgate – Tailgating, or following too closely, is a hazard not just because it puts your vehicle in the 18-wheeler’s blind spot, but because it also limits your own visibility. 18-wheelers are very tall and if you travel too closely you may miss important road signs or traffic lights.
- Don’t cut in front – Cutting in front of an 18-wheeler puts you directly in its front blind spot. That means that the trucker may have no idea you’re even there and may not even attempt to stop. Even if they do notice you it doesn’t mean they will be able to stop in time. The stopping distance for a big rig truck is much further than a passenger vehicle, meaning that it takes the big rig truck longer to stop, and “abrupt” stops aren’t really possible.
- Don’t linger – When you are passing an 18-wheeler it is important to do so quickly, but safely. Don’t take too long to pass and don’t linger along the side of them in their blind spots. Taking too long to pass makes it much more likely that they will forget you are there.
- Don’t pass on the right – Always pass an 18-wheeler on the left, not the right. While both sides have large blind spots, truckers are expecting other motorists to pass on the left. That means that they are much more likely to take evasive action into a right-side lane, which might result in a collision for motorists attempting to pass on that side.
- Report dangerous driving – If you see a trucker who is driving hazardously it is important to report them. 18-wheelers often have phone numbers on the back of their vehicles that motorists can call to report dangerous driving by the trucker. Motorists can also report dangerous driving to the highway patrol.
The sad reality is that sometimes even the safest drivers are involved in accidents with 18-wheelers due to blind spots. When these accidents occur it is important to protect your legal rights and hold the trucker and the trucking company accountable for their dangerous or negligent driving.
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