Because of the length and configuration of a tractor-trailer, there are certain places around a truck where the truck driver has a hard time seeing other vehicles. These blind spots cannot be seen by the trucker as he or she looks in rearview or sideview mirrors – or directly in front of their big rig.
Every driver deals with blind spots. But compared to passenger cars, commercial trucks have much longer and wider blind spots that can hide multiple vehicles. Motorists need to recognize this added hazard posed by large trucks and learn to steer clear of these danger zones. It is also incumbent on truck drivers to always check their blind spots and be aware of surrounding vehicles before changing lanes or turning.
After a truck accident, it is not uncommon for the trucker and trucking company to argue that a motorist was in a blind spot and, therefore, the trucker is not responsible for the crash. This is absolutely false. Commercial motor vehicle drivers have a duty of safety to others on the road, and it extends to all motorists, regardless of their position in traffic.
When the insurance company has said you are to blame for an accident and do not deserve consideration for your losses, it takes courage to push forward with a personal injury claim. The truck accident attorneys of Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer provide the Kentucky Courage to fight for the full compensation that you are due after an accident caused by a big truck. We won’t let trucking companies make phony excuses to try to deny your claim.
Call Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer at (877) 809-5352 now or contact us online to set up a free legal consultation with a Kentucky truck accident lawyer who will fight for you.
Avoiding Large Truck Blind Spots—and Accidents
One of the first lessons a new driver learns is that you can’t just look in the rearview mirror. You have to turn your head and do a shoulder check to look for cars in your blind spots. There are blind spots around all vehicles, so drivers must remember to check them before changing lanes when in traffic.
For a driver piloting an 18-wheeler, the blind spots are more numerous as well as wider and longer than they are for passenger vehicles. Most passenger cars have two blind spots extending backward and outward from either side of the driver’s and passenger’s side windows. Tractor trailers have large areas on all four sides where the drivers’ field of vision is obscured.
How Far is the Blind Spot Behind a Tractor-Trailer?
The blind sport directly behind a tractor-trailer is at least 30 feet directly behind the truck, and can extend for up to 200 feet depending on the size of the trailer. A good rule of thumb is that if you cannot see the truck driver in the truck’s side mirror, the truck driver can’t see you either.
Where are Trucks’ Other Blind Spots?
Tractor-trailers have blind spots on all sides. The blind spots around a tractor trailer or semi-trailer are:
- Directly behind the trailer: at least 30 feet behind the truck
- Driver’s side: Under the truck cab’s side-view mirror across the width of the lane and the length of the trailer
- Passenger side: Under the truck cab’s side-view mirror across the width of two lanes and 10 feet beyond the length of the trailer
- Ahead of cab: At least 20 feet directly in front of the truck on the passenger side
In general, it is best to steer clear of large trucks as much as possible. In traffic, keep a truck’s blind spots in mind and stay away from them when a truck is changing lanes, turning or backing up. If you pass an 18-wheeler, do so quickly without lingering behind, alongside or ahead of the truck.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates the trucking industry, requires commercial trucks to be equipped with two rear-vision mirrors, one at each side. The mirrors must be positioned to allow the driver to see a reflection of the highway to the rear, and the area along each side of the vehicle. Several states, including Kentucky, require mirrors that reflect a rear view of the road for at least 200 feet behind the rig.
Truckers and trucking companies have the option of equipping vehicles with multiple styles of additional mirrors to provide better views of traffic. For example, convex hood-mounted and fender-mounted mirrors can help truckers change lanes or back into spaces.
More recently, electronic blind-spot monitoring systems have become available. These include multiple digital cameras mounted on the exterior of the truck to transmit images to in-cab monitors. More recent model trucks may have crash-avoidance technology, such as lane departure warning, which monitors the environment around the vehicle and warns the driver when it detects a potential collision.
Still, it is up to drivers to avoid crashes. In addition to using all available visibility tools – including turning their head to look at traffic – truckers should inspect each of their truck’s mirrors and other systems for proper operation and condition before, during and after every trip.
How We Prove Truck Driver Negligence in an Accident
When a truck driver needs to look at traffic to safely complete a maneuver, such as a lane change or a turn, but fails to check blind spots, the trucker’s negligence is described as “inadequate surveillance.” A landmark report from the FMCSA known as the Large Truck Crash Causation Study reported that 14 percent of large truck crashes occurred because of commercial motor vehicle drivers’ inadequate surveillance.
In most large truck accidents involving passenger vehicles, the people in the smaller vehicle get hurt the worst. When these crashes are caused by a truck driver’s negligence, those who have been injured are likely to be entitled to compensation.
Our truck accident attorneys can help you pursue a claim for compensation against a negligent truck driver and the trucking company that is responsible for an employee’s driving errors. After investigating and gathering solid evidence of the trucker’s negligence, we can seek a negotiated settlement or jury award that provides compensation for your medical bills, vehicle damage, lost income, pain and suffering, and potentially more.
Examples of the most common types of evidence our Kentucky Courage attorneys gather to demonstrate truck driver negligence include:
- Police accident reports
- Eyewitness statements
- Photos of the accident scene
- Physical evidence from the scene, such as tire marks on the road
- The truck driver’s driving record (a history of violations or accidents)
- Records of the truck driver’s training and experience
- The truck driver’s medical history
There is an increasing variety of electronic evidence we can capture, including some from safety systems we mentioned above.
- Event data recorder. All commercial trucks have a “black box” event data recorder, or “EDR,” which contains a variety of information about the truck’s operations just before a crash. It includes measurements of the truck’s speed, acceleration, braking, “hard” braking and direction, such as veering left or right, side-to-side “pitch” or cab-trailer rotational “yaw.”
- Crash-avoidance sensors. Safety devices on commercial trucks that track the vehicle’s movements and automatically trigger a corrective response, like lane-departure warnings, also alert the trucking company to the potential problem situation, and the information is recorded.
- On-board cameras. Some larger trucking companies install internal camera systems to monitor their drivers. Footage might show that a trucker failed to look adequately before making the lane change that preceded a crash. It might show a fatigued driver yawning or nodding off, or a distracted driver on the phone while behind the wheel.
Data from truck EDRs is downloadable, and information recorded by other onboard systems is kept for use in training or performance reviews or because of FMCSA requirements. As your attorneys, Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer can submit a letter to the motor carrier advising that this information and records such as the trucker’s Hours of Service driving logs should be preserved as potential evidence in a claim. This demand ensures we can obtain evidence for our consultants to review as part of an accident investigation. The need to preserve evidence including trucking company records before the evidence is lost is an important reason to contact a knowledgeable truck accident attorney as soon as possible after an accident.
Contact a Kentucky Truck Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been in a commercial truck accident in Kentucky that you think was caused by a negligent truck driver, call the truck accident attorneys at Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer. Let us review the details of the accident and discuss your rights to pursue compensation to help you recover from your injuries. The case review is free.
Our firm is dedicated to giving accident victims the Kentucky Courage they need to fight for full compensation so they can move forward with their lives. We have helped many Kentuckians in difficult situations similar to yours rebuild their lives after serious injuries. There is no charge to start work on a personal injury claim for you. We only charge a legal fee if we recover money for you through a settlement or court award.
Call us at (877) 809-5352 or contact us online for your free, no-obligation initial legal consultation. We have eight offices across Kentucky and are here to serve you.