Most people know what a blind spot is, and most drivers know where blind spots are in their own vehicles. But many people do not realize just how expansive a semi-truck’s blind spots are—and that there are four of them. When you are in a trucker’s blind spot, you increase your chances of getting hit because the trucker cannot see you. Even with additional aids, such as more mirrors, a semi still has blind spots. In most cases, blind-spot warning technology and other driver aids are not available on big rigs. If you have been hit by a truck, contact a truck accident attorney as soon as possible to determine your eligibility for compensation.
Blind Spot Locations
A semi has four huge blind spots. The first blind spot is twenty feet in front of the truck. Just because a driver sits much higher than you do in a passenger car does not mean that he or she can see every inch around the truck. On the contrary, being up so high is more of a hindrance. If you are within the 20 feet of a truck’s grille, the truck driver cannot see you.
You’ve seen many people passing trucks and then merging directly in front of them. Since the driver cannot see you, you are risking your life if you slow down after you pull in front of the truck. When you merge in front of a vehicle, no one expects you to slow down; however, many drivers do just that. It’s dangerous enough when you do that to another passenger vehicle, as it causes the vehicle behind you to have to hit the brakes—if that person sees you, but it’s even more dangerous to do this to a truck.
On the driver’s side, the blind spot is from below the door mirror to about half of the length of the trailer, if you are close to the trailer. The blind spot is a little longer if you are on the outside edge of the lane.
On the passenger side of the truck, the blind spot is from the front of the truck to near the rear of the truck. It expands diagonally across two lanes past the rear of the trailer.
The rear of the truck also has a large blind spot, which is 30 feet behind the rear of the trailer. If a trucker has to hit his brakes hard, you may end up under the trailer if you are tailgating. The truck driver may not even know that you are under the trailer, since he did not see you while traveling and most certainly cannot see you if you are under the trailer. It is entirely possible that the truck driver may not feel a smaller vehicle go under the truck. If the driver decides to move the truck, it may cause more damage to you and/or your vehicle.
Avoiding a Blind Spot Accident
It’s impossible to avoid a truck’s blind spots if you need to pass the truck. However, you could minimize the chances of an accident by passing the truck as quickly and as safely as possible. Passing a truck going 80 miles per hour is not safe, as you would have to go considerably faster. Yet, you see this quite often on the highways. You also see people trying to pass a truck very slowly. If you do that, you are riding in the trucker’s blind spot for every second you take to pass the truck. In other words, if the truck is doing 45 miles per hour up a hill on the interstate, you should be going faster than 50 miles per hour to pass the truck to ensure safe passage.
Also, keep in mind that if a truck is making a right turn, it may need to use several lanes. A trucker cannot see you when you are on the right side of the truck and may continue to make the turn and crush your vehicle. If you notice a truck signaling a right turn from a center lane or the left lane, always wait for the truck to complete the turn.
When merging in front of a truck, make sure you can see the truck’s grille in your rearview mirror, not just in your side mirrors. If you cannot see the grille in your rearview mirror, you are too close to the front of the truck to merge in.
You may be reading this and thinking that you’ve always been taught that truckers are expected to watch what they are doing to avoid accidents. Thanks to blind spots, truckers cannot see everything. Other drivers must also watch out for themselves, including when driving around big rigs. You should never rely on another driver to avoid an accident, since the other driver, whether in a passenger vehicle or a big rig, may not see you. When all drivers take responsibility for their own safety, it’s possible to avoid many accidents.
Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer if You Still Have Questions
When you contact your insurance company to advise them of the accident, give the insurance company your name, the year, the make and model of your vehicle, and the location of the accident. Otherwise, advise the insurance representative that your attorney will contact the company to give it additional details regarding the accident.
If you try to explain the accident yourself, you may inadvertently say something that the insurance company will use against you in determining fault. Even if you think you are partially at fault in a blind spot accident, you may still recover damages. Massachusetts has a comparative negligence law that allows for partial compensatory damages when you are partially at fault.
In addition, you may have the right to recover additional damages beyond what your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company will pay out, either because of limits on your insurance policy or because the insurance company refuses to come to a fair and reasonable agreement.
Since Massachusetts is a no-fault state, your insurance company is usually the first to pay, then the other driver’s insurance company. If you are entitled to pain and suffering compensation, punitive damages, and other types of non-economical damages, you may have to sue the truck driver or the driver’s company if the limits on the insurance policies are too low to cover your needs.
Speaking with a truck accident lawyer can evaluate your case, answer your questions, and help you map a path forward.