While you may not have heard the term no-zone before, you’ve likely heard of blind spots. Since 1991, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has classified the blind spots of big trucks as “no-zones.” Simply put, no-zones are the blind spots in which a truck driver cannot see a car. These are dangerous areas other drivers must constantly remain aware of.
Blind spots exist in every vehicle, but they place drivers at even greater risk when large trucks are involved, due to their larger weight and size. We discuss no-zones in more detail below.
Research About No-Zone Accidents
There have been numerous studies conducted regarding no-zone accidents. Many roadway accidents that involve a car and a truck occur in no-zones. Drivers should remain aware of these zones, as it makes it easier to stay safe when sharing the road with big rigs.
Truck no-zones are located in the following locations:
- Front of the truck – As many as 13% of all accidents involving a car and truck occur in the front no-zone.
- Side of the truck – 12% of truck accidents between a truck and a car occur due to side no-zone accidents. These accidents are most common at intersections.
- Rear of the truck – 10% of all car-truck collisions occur because of rear no-zones.
All in all, this means approximately 35% of all truck accidents that involve smaller vehicles are traceable back to a no-zone accident. Overall, estimates show there are approximately 30,000 annual accidents involving cars and trucks that stem from no-zone accidents.
Identifying No-Zone Locations
It is easy to assume that because a truck is larger than a car, truck drivers have a better field of view of what is on the roadway. While a truck may have a larger front view, it may surprise you to learn how difficult it is for a truck operator to see clearly on all sides of the vehicle.
The four areas where a driver is least likely to see an approaching vehicle are:
- Behind the trailer of the truck – Truck drivers have difficulty seeing vehicles behind them. While this should come as no surprise, what may surprise you is the distance in which these challenges exist. Most recommendations suggest that cars remain at least 30 feet behind the trailer of a truck.
- Front of the truck cab – Truck drivers may also struggle to see what is in front of them. This is because they are attempting to look over the nose of the cab, which is substantially larger than the front end of most cars. Most studies show that trucks need cars to remain at least 20 feet ahead of the trucks to stay out of their no-zones.
- Left and right side of the truck – We are including these together because the rules for avoiding problems are the same. Truckers cannot see under the mirrors of their cabs. On the right side of the truck, this issue may extend to a slightly larger radius. The simple rule of thumb for dealing with the right and left side of a truck is to check the truck’s mirror. If you cannot see the driver, the driver cannot see you!
Being a cautious driver is not always the solution to avoiding no-zone accidents. However, staying alert, knowing that you are sharing the road with a truck that may have large blind spots, and taking steps to ensure the truck driver can see you clearly will help reduce the risk of a no-zone accident.
What Causes a No-Zone Accident?
Anytime that you share the road with other motorists, it’s important to keep in mind that they all have blind spots. When you are sharing the road with trucks, the truck’s blind spots are usually larger, which will make it even more difficult for a truck driver to see you. Drivers approaching a truck on the roadway should drive defensively and use caution when passing a large truck.
It is also important to remember that a truck is not as easily maneuverable as a car. Because of the sheer size of a truck, drivers need more time to stop their vehicles, and defensive moves may prove dangerous. The FHMCA estimates that it takes a truck traveling at 65 miles an hour the distance of two football fields to stop completely. If the roadways are wet, it may take an even longer distance.
While many of us have seen stickers on large trucks that remind you of the trucks’ blind spots, there are some other things that all drivers should know:
- Falling debris – Traveling closely behind a truck can prove just as dangerous as a no-zone accident. A truck may fling debris from the roadway into your car’s path. Additionally, debris or improperly-loaded cargo may fall from truck beds.
- Turning trucks – Drivers who attempt to pass on the right side of the truck should use additional caution. Keep in mind, a truck requires more space to safely make a right-hand turn. If you happen to wind up in the truck’s no-zone while the driver is turning, the result could prove deadly.
Trucks simply cannot maneuver as easily as passenger vehicles. This makes large trucks a hazard to other vehicles on the road, particularly in inclement conditions.
Truck Weights Contribute to Injuries
Most people understand that many different factors will affect how serious injuries are following a roadway accident. These factors include the speed at which the vehicles are traveling, the roadway conditions, the time of day, and where the impact occurred. However, another factor that you should consider is the weight of the involved vehicles. This is especially true when one of the vehicles involved in an accident is a truck.
Here is a quick look at weight differences among different types of vehicles:
- Standard automobiles – An empty passenger vehicle can have an approximate weight of between 3,200 and 6,000 pounds. When full, the car can weigh as much as 1,000 pounds more.
- Small trucks – The weights of SUVs, mini-vans, and small pickups can range from 2,400 to 4,000 pounds when empty. These vehicles can carry an additional 1,500 pounds of cargo.
- Larger passenger trucks – Larger SUVs and standard or large-sized pickup trucks can range in weight from 6,000 to 10,000 pounds even when they’re not carrying anything. These vehicles’ cargo limits range from 2,500 to 5,000 pounds.
- Utility vans and small buses – With an empty weight of between 10,000 and 14,000 pounds, these vehicles already weigh more than a standard passenger vehicle. Add in an additional 5,200 pounds of cargo, and vans and buses are nearly twice the weight of an average car.
- Tractor-trailers – These behemoths weigh between 33,000 and 80,000 pounds even before the addition of any cargo. Depending on the cargo, trucks may be carrying an additional 54,000 pounds.
It is crystal clear from these numbers that being involved in any truck accident is likely to prove devastating, regardless of what type of vehicle you are driving. Trucks have a significant weight advantage, putting every other operator on the roadway at a disadvantage in the event of a truck accident.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
While no definitive data tells us how many truck accidents occur in no-zone accidents, there are a few things that we do know. First, truck accidents can cause devastating injuries to victims. Additionally, we have fairly good insight into some of the most common injuries that a victim faces following a truck accident.
These are some of the injuries that can happen in no-zone accidents:
- Serious head injuries – Traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussions, and fractured skulls can all result from a truck accident. Victims who suffer these types of injuries could face weeks or months of recovery time. In some cases, victims may even suffer permanent damage from a TBI. Some victims will suffer personality changes, an inability to keep their thoughts straight, and other injuries that make their return to normal life more challenging.
- Back and neck injuries – Soft tissue injuries, compressed vertebra, and spinal cord injuries can all impact your life negatively. In addition to dealing with serious pain, you may suffer permanent nerve damage and other challenges. Unfortunately, these injuries may not always appear evident immediately after an accident; rather, they may appear gradually over a few days.
- Other serious injuries – Cuts from broken glass, injuries from airbags and seatbelts, broken bones, and internal injuries are common following an auto accident. Any type of injury can result in future problems, including surgical procedures, chronic pain, and more.
Seeking immediate medical care after an accident is crucial. You want to ensure you don’t have any immediate issues that could worsen over time. Victims who have been involved in a no-zone accident and feel fine should monitor themselves for several days following an accident and seek immediate guidance from their doctor if they start feeling pain of any kind. Remember, our bodies are adept at masking pain, particularly in times of great stress.
Facing Reality: Financial Concerns Following No-Zone Accidents
While recovering from their injuries, most no-zone accident victims are worried about many things. If you’ve sustained injuries in a no-zone accident, you’re likely concerned about lost time from work, medical bills piling up, the condition of your car, and the stress of knowing that you may have to face additional medical issues due to your injuries. All the while, in the back of your mind, you’re plagued by the thought of how much your accident will financially impact you and your family.
This is when you start thinking about how you’re going to deal with the insurance company to recover financially. Before you do this, call a lawyer who has experience handling trucking accidents.
Important Considerations Following a No-Zone Accident
The truck accident claim process is complicated. One of the first things that you must establish is who is at fault for the accident. It’s easy to think that you may be partially to blame, but whatever you do, never apologize or admit to any amount of fault, even when speaking with law enforcement or insurance agents. Do not provide a statement to these parties until you’ve met with a truck accident lawyer who has your best interests in mind.
Drivers should also keep in mind additional issues may have contributed to the no-zone accident. A lawyer can help you investigate and uncover these causes. For example, the truck driver involved may have suffered from a lack of sleep, may have been carrying loads that were overweight for their trucks, or may have been traveling too fast for the road conditions.
Drivers of all vehicles can suffer impairment from drugs and alcohol, could drive too fast, and could drive while distracted. Once you enter the insurance claim process, adjusters often try to blame victims for their injuries. This is a common tactic for all insurance companies because they want to protect their bottom lines, which means paying as little as possible in claims.
There is a good chance that you may have to deal with multiple insurance adjusters. In most cases, insurers will assign one adjuster to handle medical claims and another to handle property damage claims (the damage to your car or other belongings.) You may receive a quick settlement offer from an insurance company, particularly if you have a big truck accident claim. Do not get tricked into signing your first settlement offer; this is a common tactic that insurance companies employ to avoid any future liability.
The insurance adjuster knows that if you have a serious injury, you likely don’t know when you will be able to return to work, how much your total medical bills will cost, or the long-term implications of your injury. They will pressure you to settle quickly, and you’ll be out of luck.
An attorney who has handled complicated no-zone accident cases can help you by evaluating your medical records and enlisting experts to estimate your earnings losses and your total recovery time. Your attorney is there to protect you—and to protect your interests. While you focus on your recovery, your attorney will handle insurance negotiations and prepare to take your case to trial, if necessary.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury in a no-zone accident, you need to take immediate action to protect your legal rights. Before you decide which option is right for you and your family following a no-zone accident, you need to understand all of your options. Reach out now for a free consultation from one of our live experts! We’re ready to help.
Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.