Houston Trucking Accidents Caused by Blind SpotsBy Stewart J. Guss on June 9th, 2016
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute, a total of 3,660 people died in large truck crashes in 2014. Sixteen percent of these deaths were truck occupants, 68 percent were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, and 15 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists. The number of people who died in large truck crashes was 16 percent higher in 2014 than in 2009, when it was lower than at any year since the collection of fatal crash data began in 1975.
Trucking Blind Spots
Blind spots are areas around a vehicle that a driver is unable to see by looking at the rear view or side mirrors. Because of the massive size of commercial trucks, they have numerous blind spots or “no-zones.” There are blind spots just in front of the truck cab, just below and behind the driver-side window, on the right side of the cab and back to the end of the trailer, and right behind the trailer. Even when a driver turns to look and check these areas, it can be impossible to see a motorcyclist or car that may be present for many reasons including:
- Due to the length of 18-wheelers, usually between 70 and 80 feet, with triple trailers up to 105 feet long, trucks have extremely limited visibility on both sides of the truck and in the back and front.
- The height of a truck would seem to be an advantage, but because the height difference is so drastic a truck driver may not be able to see a low-riding car. Being so high also limits the truck driver’s view of what is close in front of the truck.
- Trucks do not have rear view mirrors. Due to the height of the trailer behind a truck, a rear view mirror would only show the truck driver his/her own trailer. Truckers must rely on only two side mirrors to see the location of other vehicles.
Avoiding Houston Truck Driver Blind Spots
In 1994, the No-Zone program was introduced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to teach the public how to safely share the road with trucks and buses. According to the FMCSA, No-Zones are areas where cars “disappear” from the view of the truck or bus driver; these places are where crashes are most likely to occur.
The No-Zone program and the American Trucking Association (ATA) offer the following advice to drivers of Houston passenger vehicles:
- Do not cut in front of trucks or buses. Large commercial vehicles need much more space to stop and cutting in front of them may not afford them enough time or space to brake. Make sure you can see the whole front end of the truck before pulling back into the lane in front of it.
- Do not linger along the side of a truck. If you find yourself next to a truck, quickly and safely pass the vehicle or back off so the driver can see you. A good indication of whether you’re out of the blind spot is if you can see the driver’s face in his/her side mirror.
- Pass on the left, when possible. Due to the position of the truck driver in the cab, he/she has a smaller blind spot on the left side. On the right side, the blind spot of a truck runs the length of the truck and extends out three lanes.
- Stay back. Truck drivers cannot see anything close behind the truck, so if you follow too closely the driver is not aware that you are back there. If you cannot see both mirrors when you are following a truck, then you are too close.
Call an Experienced Houston Truck Crash Attorney
If you or a loved one are involved in a collision with a large truck, you likely sustained serious and even permanent injuries or disabilities. At the Stewart Guss law firm our team of highly skilled truck accident lawyers has successfully helped many accident victims. Please call our office today at 800-898-4877 so our team can review your case.