The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that in 2014, nearly 4,000 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes. Between 2009 and 2014, there has been an increase in the number of injury crashes involving large trucks and buses of 55 percent. Between 2013 and 2014, the number of large trucks involved in injury crashes increased by 21 percent, from 73,000 to 88,000.
Though trucks crash less frequently than passenger cars their crashes can be more catastrophic because of their large size and weight. To help prevent accidents, the FMCSA advises other drivers to steer clear of a truck’s so-called “No-Zones.”
What Are No-Zones?
Because of their size and bulk, large trucks have huge blind spots covering much more distance than do passenger vehicles. These are also called “no-zones” because other drivers are advised to avoid them completely. They are the areas that are thought to be responsible for most accidents.
In general, there are considered to be four “no-zones” around a large truck:
- Directly behind the truck: Drivers in this space are completely invisible to the truck driver. The tractor-trailer blocks the rear view, and though there are side mirrors, if you can’t see the driver in his mirror, remember that he can likely not see you, either.
- Right side of the truck: This is the side opposite the driver, and thus is more difficult to see. Cars on this side of the truck can be invisible over a long space.
- Left side of the truck: If you can see the driver in the mirror, you’re good to go, but otherwise, realize that he can’t see you.
- Front of the truck: This is the final “no-zone” because trucks can’t stop quickly. They need more space and time to slow down and stop, so if you are right in front of them, you could get hit. This is also why cutting in front of a big truck increases risk of an accident.
FMCSA Recommends Caution Around Big Trucks
The FMCSA advises other drivers to avoid these no-zones, but also to take other precautions when around big trucks. It’s best to pass quickly, so that you’re not lingering in blind spots where an accident can occur. In addition, if a truck is passing you, you may want to slow down a little to get out of the blind spot more quickly.
Because trucks and buses need extra turning room, it’s also wise to give them a wide berth when they’re about ready to turn. In addition, resist the temptation to pass on the right of the truck that’s approaching an intersection, lest he go into a turn and squeeze you in.
When the Truck Driver is at Fault
The Department of Motor Vehicles states that car drivers made mistakes in 70 percent of the fatal crashes involving large trucks. Sometimes, however, it’s the truck driver who is to blame, and in that case, the passenger driver may be eligible to recover damages in court.
In 2014, the FMCSA reported that when the driver was at fault, usually one of three things happened:
- The driver went out of his lane and into another lane or off the road.
- The driver lost control of the truck because of speeding, cargo shift, vehicle systems failure, poor road conditions, or other reasons.
- The truck collided with the rear end of another vehicle in his lane.
Some other major factors associated with truck crashes included prescription drug use, speeding, roadway problems, over-the-counter drug use, and fatigue.
Exclusively focused on representing plaintiffs, especially in mass tort litigation, Eric Chaffin prides himself on providing unsurpassed professional legal services in pursuit of the specific goals of his clients and their families. Both his work and his cases have been featured in the national press, including on ABC’s Good Morning America.