One of the most dangerous parts of sharing the road with a semi truck is avoiding blind spots. Every year, many 18 wheeler wrecks result from poor passing decisions and passenger vehicles becoming stuck in an area where big rig operators cannot see. These types of crashes can be especially serious, causing severe injuries and fatalities. The best way to avoid accidents in blind spots is to understand where they are and how to stay out of them, even while passing.
Know Where Blind Spots Are
There are four main blind spots around 18-wheelers that other drivers should be aware of. These areas are also sometimes referred to as the “no zones,” and are located:
- Directly in front of the vehicle
- Directly behind the truck
- To the left of the driver’s side cab and mirror
- To the right and diagonally back across traffic lanes from the passenger side mirror.
Safe Maneuvering to Stay Out of Blind Spots
Staying out of the blind spots referenced above can be challenging as vehicles maneuver on the highway. By using the safe driving methods listed below, passenger vehicle operators can avoid these areas and reduce the chance of being involved in crashes on major highways:
- Watch for Turn Signals - When a truck’s turn signal comes on, make room immediately. Give the driver room to change lanes by either slowing down slightly to let them get ahead or accelerating to get in front of them. Failure to do so often results in 18 wheeler wrecks where passenger vehicles get pinched in blind spots while big rig operators are attempting to change lanes.
- Never Pass on the Right - This is a general rule of the road and is especially important with big rigs. The right side of the vehicle has the largest blind spot. Any truck in the left lane is likely there to pass slower-moving traffic. Give them a chance to do this and get back over to the right before passing safely on the left.
- Give Trucks Room - 18-wheeler operators will try to leave a substantial gap between the front of their vehicle and the traffic moving in front of them. This is not an invitation for passenger vehicles to fill in that area. Respect this space and stay out of the front blind spot. Similarly, give trucks room on all other sides to avoid accidentally being caught in an area where a driver cannot see. Heavy vehicles maneuver more slowly and take longer to stop than other vehicles. The greater the distance maintained around 18-wheelers, the larger a passenger vehicle’s safety net.
- Assume the Driver Cannot See You - Always err on the side of caution by assuming the truck driver cannot see the cars directly around it. This is instrumental in reducing crashes.
- Understand How Trucks Work - Sometimes avoiding a big rig’s blind spot requires those who operate other vehicles to also consider the limitations that semi truck operators deal with. This is especially significant when traveling up and down hills. Avoid tailgating if a big rig is climbing a hill slowly. Maintain speed or get out of the way when on a decline, where these vehicles may pick up significant speed.
Commercial trucks such as 18-wheelers are an essential part of this country’s economy. As such, it is critical that all vehicle drivers learn how to safely share the road with them to avoid dangerous crashes. One of the most significant ways for passenger vehicle operators to accomplish this is by knowing a truck’s blind spots and understanding how to avoid them. Staying out of the no-zone and giving big rigs extra room is much more than a courtesy. It is an important way to prevent dangerous and sometimes deadly 18 wheeler wrecks!
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
Phone: (281) 408-2190