Commercial trucks and 18-wheelers are huge vehicles, weighing in at between 20,000 to 80,000 pounds, depending on its cargo. This massive size prevents truckers from being able to see every area around their cab and trailer, unlike drivers of passenger cars. The areas that truckers cannot see are called “blind spots,” and are dangerous for nearby drivers, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Anyone in traffic should understand the dangers of blind spots, but it is also the responsibility of a truck driver to operate their vehicle responsibly and protect others on the road.
In addition to the giant weight of a tractor-trailer, these trucks are also massively tall, long, and wide. The average length of an 18-wheeler is about 75 feet, and even longer if a truck pulls more than one trailer. Most big rigs are about 13.5 feet tall, which can make it difficult for a driver to see objects or people below the cab. And, because tractor-trailers do not have rear-view mirrors due to their cargo haulers, they simply cannot see anything directly behind them.
When a trucker fails to check their blind spot, they can cause a serious truck crash with severe or even fatal injuries to the vehicles unlucky enough to be in its path. In a safety video, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) points out that commercial trucks have blind spots on every side of the vehicle. They note these areas in particular:
- Directly behind the back of the trailer
- Directly below and in front of the cab of the truck
- Immediately right and slightly behind the driver
- The lower left side of the truck
- The majority of the right side of the truck
According to the FMCSA, drivers should also take some safety advice into consideration when sharing the road with tractor-trailers:
- Always pass 18-wheelers and large vehicles on the left so the driver can see you
- Be extra aware when passing or being passed by commercial trucks
- Remember that trucks need a longer following distance to see vehicles behind them; so if you can’t see the truck driver in their side mirror, they can’t see you either
- Stay out of a truck’s blind spot when it is turning, changing lanes, or backing up
However, blind spot truck accidents often happen because the truck driver failed to check their surroundings before making a move.
Why do Oklahoma blind spot truck crashes happen?
Truck drivers take special training to learn how to operate their rigs. This means knowing how to properly set and check their mirrors and blind spots when driving and making maneuvers on the road. Truckers need to check blind spots (and every spot) around their vehicle when doing things like turning, changing lanes, backing up, and braking. If an 18-wheeler makes a sudden stop and does not realize a passenger car is following too closely, a fatal crash can result.
Blind spot crashes are often attributed to negligence, which can include:
- Truckers driving distracted, while drowsy, or under the influence
- Failure to properly align side-view mirrors before a trip
- Failure to check mirrors and surroundings before turning or changing lanes
- Failure of the trucking company to install, repair, or maintain working mirrors
- Failure of the trucking company to install, repair, or maintain safety/collision avoidance systems
- Failure of the trucking company to properly hire and train drivers about the dangers of blind spots
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident with a commercial truck, the lawyers at Cunningham & Mears can help you seek compensation for your losses. We represent injury victims in Oklahoma City and throughout the state. To schedule your free, no-obligation consultation in our office call (405) 232-1212, or fill out the firm’s contact form to tell us about your case.
Ryan Y. Cunningham is a founding partner of Cunningham & Mears. Mr. Cunningham devotes his practice to protecting the rights of injured Oklahoma residents. In addition to assisting injured clients, Mr. Cunningham endeavors to improve personal injury representation by speaking on issues related to personal injury law to attorneys in continuing legal education courses and to law students. Learn More