Blind Spots and Truck Related Accidents

 

Michael T. Gibson

Any experienced driver knows the challenges of blind spots. Blind spots are areas around a vehicle that the driver of that vehicle cannot see in rearview or side mirrors, or without turning his head. According to Consumer Reports, the average mid-size sedan, driven by an average height driver, has a blind spot of approximately 13 feet. The larger the vehicle, the larger these blind spots become. If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck related accident speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer to discuss your options.

 

But while we are aware of our own blind spots, it’s easy to forget about the blind spot of other vehicles on the road, particularly big rig trucks. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, these trucks can have blind spots up to 30 feet long. Yet every day, drivers make dangerous maneuvers, ignoring these blind spots, that put their lives and the lives of others at risk.

 

Where Are a Truck’s Blind Spots?

One of the best ways to prevent being involved in a truck accident is to be aware of a truck’s blind spots. It is also important to realize that most commercial trucks weigh 20 to 30 times more than a passenger vehicle. This means that a truck traveling at 65 miles per hour will take the length of approximately two football fields to stop.

 

Most commercial vehicles have warning markings indicating a truck’s blind spots. It is always important to pay attention to these warnings. A common rule of thumb is, if you can’t see the truck’s mirrors or the driver, they likely can’t see you. As a driver, there are four major truck blind spots that you should be aware of:

  • Front of truck: The height of a truck cab makes it difficult to see directly ahead of the vehicle. Because of this, it is dangerous to cut close in front of a truck. Always keep a distance of at least 20 feet between you and a truck traveling behind you.
  • Rear of truck: The average eighteen-wheeler is 80 feet long. This makes it impossible for the truck’s mirrors to see directly behind the vehicle. Trucks of this size have a rear blind spot measuring at least 30 feet.
  • Left side of the truck: A driver’s blind spot may extend from directly behind the cab to the back of the truck. It is generally a good idea to avoid driving directly next to a truck.
  • Right side of the truck: The side opposite the driver carries the same limitations as the left side, but may extend two lanes over. Never “ride a truck’s blind spot.”

 

Common Causes

All drivers have a responsibility to drive safely on the road. While some accidents are unavoidable, many times negligence or dangerous behavior causes an otherwise preventable accident. Common causes of blind spot accidents include:

  • Aggressive driving: Big trucks take longer to respond to hazards around them. Cutting off a driver or weaving in and out of traffic is always dangerous, particularly around semi-trucks. Other examples of aggressive driving include honking, tapping the brakes, and intentionally blocking a truck from changing lanes.
  • Truck driver negligence: Driver negligence can include speeding, aggressive driving (such as braking suddenly to scare other drivers), and changing lanes without checking their mirrors or clearing their blind spots. This may be a result of driver fatigue, drugs or alcohol, poor training, or simple negligence.
  • Tailgating: A truck’s large load means that it takes longer to accelerate or get up a hill and longer to stop. Impatient driving can lead truck drivers to follow too closely to the person in front of them. Always try to give large trucks plenty of room.
  • Riding the blind spot: Remaining for too long in any of a truck’s four major blind spots puts you at risk of an accident. Consistently floating in one of these areas means can cause the truck driver to forget you’re there. Limit the amount of time you spend in these areas and try to avoid traveling on either side of a large truck for an extended period.

 

Injuries That May Result From Truck Accidents

Due to the enormous size and weight of commercial trucks, a collision can result in catastrophic injuries. Additionally, these types of accidents carry a far greater risk of fatalities. Drivers who survive these accidents may have to deal with long term or permanent injuries. Common injuries from blind spot accidents include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries: These injuries often result from a hard impact of the head against another object such as the windshield or seat. Traumatic brain injuries can cause sensory impairment, loss of memory, headaches, or other long term deficits. These injuries may be temporary or may persist for the rest of the victim’s life.
  • Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injuries can be permanent or temporary. Someone who suffers an injury to their spinal cord will likely have full or partial paralysis.
  • Broken bones: The impact of a collision can crush or bend the bones in an unnatural position. In some cases, the severity of the break may cause chronic pain or could require amputation.
  • Burns or lacerations: In serious accidents, the force of the collision could cause an explosion. This could lead to severe cuts or burns that may result in permanent scars.
  • PTSD: A truck accident can be a traumatic experience. People who have been involved in a serious accident may suffer from extreme anxiety or mood changes. Often, the trauma is so severe that the victim has difficulty moving beyond the accident.

 

It May Not Be Just the Driver at Fault

When it comes to large truck accidents, multiple parties may hold responsibility for an accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine whether the following bear liability to you:

  • The truck driver: Truck drivers hold responsibility for safely driving their vehicle from one location to another. If a driver fails to follow traffic laws or watch for other vehicles, they will likely be found responsible.
  • The truck’s owner: A truck owner’s liability comes into play when their actions contributed to a company. For example, if a driver’s employer forced the driver to work beyond the legal limits or failed to provide proper training, they may be partially liable. If the driver’s insurance is insufficient in covering the cost of your accident, the driver’s employer may cover additional costs.
  • The vehicle driver: Truck accidents are often caused by drivers failing to respect the extra space and time these vehicles need. If your driving was the direct cause of the accident, you will likely be found to be at fault. If your actions only partially contributed to the accident, you may still have a claim under Florida’s comparative fault laws.
  • Other drivers: In some cases, a third party may be involved. If a reckless driver cuts off a truck, the truck driver may respond by quickly moving to another lane. This often happens before the truck driver can check the other lane for oncoming vehicles. If this happens, the third party driver may be held liable.

 

Stay Safe on the Road—You Can Help Prevent Blind Spot Accidents

You can’t always avoid an accident with a large truck. Knowing a truck’s blind spots and being respectful of these truck’s massive size, however, can save your life. In addition to knowing where not to drive, the following tips can help you stay safe on the road:

  • Never ride a truck’s blind spots: Passing through a truck’s blind spot may be unavoidable, but you should never continue to travel in a known blind spot. If you have to drive into a blind spot, get to a position where the driver can see you as fast as you safely can. Staying in these blind spots can make it impossible for a driver to see you when he goes to change lanes.
  • Be smart when passing: A fully loaded tractor-trailer takes much longer to stop than an average passenger vehicle. This means it is never safe to cut in front of a tractor trailer. Remember, truck drivers cannot see 20 feet in front of their truck cab, on average. When you go to pass, clearly signal your intention to change lanes and do not move over until you are at least 20 feet (2-3 car lengths) ahead of the truck.
  • Don’t follow closely: Traveling behind a truck is one of the most dangerous things a driver can do. If a truck suddenly stops and you are following too closely, your vehicle may ride under the truck, causing catastrophic damage. Rear-end accidents with trucks are some of the most dangerous accidents on the road.
  • Be alert: Even if you think that you may not be in a truck’s blind spot, the truck driver may have difficulty seeing you. Always pay attention to trucks around you and be prepared for unexpected lane changes. If a truck begins to veer into your lane, honk to let the trucker know you are there.

 

Possible Compensation in a Florida Blind Spot Accident

Blind spot collisions often result in serious injuries that require long term treatment. A personal injury claim can help cover some of the costs associated with recovery from an accident. Though the specific damages awarded vary from case to case, common factors considered include:

  • Medical costs: Typical costs include doctor visits, surgeries, medical devices (including crutches, wheelchairs, and hospital beds), prescription and over the counter medication, physical therapy, and other rehabilitation.
  • Loss of earnings: Time missed at work due to the accident, doctors visits or rehabilitation can have a significant impact on your finances. A personal injury lawyer may be able to help you recoup these losses.
  • Pain and suffering: Pain and suffering generally covers harm for which there is no fixed dollar amount. Common claims for pain and suffering include physical pain, emotional and mental distress, and physical disfigurement.

 

An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

If you are in a truck blind spot accident, speak with a truck accident attorney. The injuries resulting from a truck accident are often severe and require expert attention. This, in turn, costs thousands if not millions of dollars—expenses you should not have to bear if you didn’t cause the crash. A truck accident law firm can help you recover compensation to cover those costs.

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