The Unique Risks Associated with Commercial Truck Blind Spots


February 17, 2013

Commercial semi-trucks pose unprecedented dangers to other vehicle occupants and pedestrians that include their massive size, limited responsiveness, longer braking distance and enormous blind spots.

While the failure of motorists to check blind spots before changing lanes or using a freeway exit/entrance is always dangerous, the nature and magnitude of the risk is exponentially greater when the vehicle is a tractor-trailer.

There are a number of factors that distinguish tractor-trailer blind spots from those of passenger vehicles. Commercial trucks with triple trailers can be up to a 105 feet in length. This means that enormous areas exist on either side of the big-rig where the truck driver cannot see motorists even with mirrors. The operator of a tractor-trailer also has no ability to see behind the vehicle with a rearview mirror. Because the commercial trucks ride so much higher than passenger vehicles, truck drivers also have extremely limited visibility of activity in the immediate front of the truck.

Blind spots on commercial trucks are called No-Zones. Although trucks are supposed to be equipped with warnings that alert other motorists that a truck driver cannot see them, these warnings may be missing or not visible if the vehicle is not properly maintained. The danger of No-Zones is so significant that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched a program to inform the public of the dangers almost two decades ago. Despite these efforts, truck blind spots continue to be a factor in many tractor-trailer crashes.

It is important to be extremely vigilant whenever you are driving in the vicinity of a commercial truck, and the American Trucking Association (ATA) makes the following suggestions for drivers of cars, trucks and SUVs:

Avoid Prolonged Driving Adjacent to a Truck: Because there are large areas where passenger vehicles are not visible beside a big-rig, the ATA recommends either passing the truck or slowing down so that you are far enough behind the semi-truck that the driver can see you.

Allow A Greater Following Distance: While the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles advises drivers to observe a two-second following rule, this distance should be increased for tractor-trailers. Trucks cannot see you when you are behind them so they cannot anticipate a potential rear-end collision if they are forced to stop suddenly.

Do Not Pass on the Right: Because truck drivers occupy the left side of the cab, the blind spots on the left side of the vehicle are smaller than on the right side. The ATA advises that truck drivers are more likely to know you are present if you pass on the left of the semi-truck.

Never Cut Off Tractor-Trailers: Big-rigs need a much greater distance to stop and drivers cannot see you when you are immediately in front of a commercial truck. The ATA recommends that you move back into the semi-truck’s lane only after you can see the front end of the truck in your rearview mirror.

Commercial truck drivers are expected to be aware of the potential presence of other vehicles in their blind spots when changing lanes. When truck drivers disregard these risks and cause collisions, the truck driver and trucking company may be financially responsible for injuries to others.

Our experienced Atlanta commercial trucking accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or Free 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Truck Accidents

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