U-Turns and Wide-Turns Can Lead to Truck Accidents

U-Turns and Wide-Turns Can Lead to Truck AccidentsSemis, tractor-trailers, rigs, and most commercial trucks are longer and wider than most vehicles, even SUVs. The bigger dimensions make controlling a truck difficult when drivers need to turn. For starters, truck drivers need to make sure the rear of their vehicle moves with the cab or front of the truck. The windowless sides and rear can create dangerous blind spots. Then there’s the cargo, which may slide and shift while the truck is turning.

It’s generally not enough for a trucking business to be satisfied that their drivers have commercial driver’s licenses. Truck drivers need practice and education to ensure that they can turn safely in all types of traffic and weather conditions. When truck drivers fail to turn properly, the occupants of other vehicles can suffer severe or fatal injuries because their vehicles are no match for the bulk of a large truck. Pedestrians and bicycle riders crossing at an intersection are likely to be killed if a turning truck strikes them. The trucks may also jackknife or roll over if the driver takes the turn too fast.

What makes U-turns dangerous?

U-turn accidents involve trucks that make 180-degree turns so the truck can reverse directions completely. U-turns usually occur at intersections, in loading docks or parking lots where the truck is receiving or delivering cargo. Where possible, trucks should make two left turns or two right turns instead of combining these turns into one U-turn maneuver. U-turns are dangerous because trucks, especially longer trucks, need to cross several lanes of traffic. While the drivers are making the turns, the drivers need to be on the lookout in their front, rear, and both sides for other vehicles, people, and stationary objects. Using another person (a spotter) may endanger the spotter and often causes the driver to over-rely on the spotter instead of visually checking all the angles around the truck. Tractors may not travel in unison with the cab.

Some states – including Oklahoma – have begun to focus on building more circular intersections (called roundabouts or rotaries) so the turn is much smoother. Until these circular intersections become the norm, truck drivers are either going to have to look for places where they can stick to 90-degree turns or risk the possibility of being held liable for any U-turn accidents and injuries they cause.

Why are wide turns dangerous?

Most truck-turning accidents involve trucks making right or left turns at an intersection. Wide-turn accidents in Oklahoma City may also happen when trucks turn into parking lots and businesses that are on the side of the main highway.

Even the most skilled truck drivers often need to cross into a second or third lane of travel – which creates the risk that the truck may collide with oncoming drivers or sideswipe drivers traveling in the same direction.

Truck drivers need to consider what other nearby drivers think the truck is going to do. If, for example, the truck begins to swing the truck too early, a driver in the rear may think the driver is turning left – when the truck driver is actually preparing to turn to the right. If the truck driver begins to swerve too late, a driver in the rear may be too close to the truck – causing the truck driver to crush the car in the rear while the truck driver makes the turn.

If the truck driver turns too quickly, the trailer may not follow the cab of the truck causing the truck to jackknife. Even if the truck doesn’t jackknife, the rear of the truck could swing out striking other vehicles.

In addition to being longer and wider than other trucks, most commercial trucks are also taller than passenger cars and motorcycles. This makes it impossible for drivers behind the truck to see the traffic conditions in front of the truck – which can force the car or motorcycle to have to make quick decisions about whether to turn, wait for the next traffic light sequence, or proceed once the truck completes the turn.

Generally, truck drivers have some difficulty seeing vehicles behind them or to their left. Seeing vehicles to the truck driver’s right is virtually impossible. Even with mirrors and video cameras, many of the most serious wide-turn accidents involved trucks turning right and crushing vehicles to the right of the truck.

What safety precautions should truck drivers take when turning?

At Cunningham & Mears, for more than 20 years, our Oklahoma City truck accident lawyers work with investigators, the police, you, the witnesses, and others to determine how the vehicle accident happened – and why the accident was preventable.

A CDL study guide indicates that truck drivers may cause a U-turn or wide-turn accident if the truck driver:

  • Takes the turn too fast
  • Fails to keep the back part of the truck in the same lane as long as possible
  • Doesn’t position the truck correctly before starting the turn
  • Starts the turn too soon – before the truck enters the intersection

Truck drivers also need to allow for more room if the truck is carrying a heavy load and need to ensure they can complete the turn before the light changes.

The trucks should be equipped with the latest cameras and video technology to help the driver see through the trucks’ various blind spots. The trucking companies that hire commercial truck drivers should ensure that the driver is experienced at making U-turns and wide turns – or receives the course training to show the necessary competency.

Truck accidents cause traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, broken bones, and other serious injuries. At Cunningham & Mears, our Oklahoma City truck accident lawyers file personal injury claims and wrongful death claims when someone is hurt or killed due to a U-turn accident, a wide-turn accident, or any other type of accident.  We demand compensation for all your financial and personal damages. To assert your rights, call us or contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.