Whether you are a daily commuter or a road-tripper, if you drive, you are sure to share the road with all types of vehicles. When on the scenic, sometimes treacherous, mountainous highways of western Pennsylvania leading to Pittsburgh, the presence of trucks increases hazards on the road.
While, yes, these increased road risks are in part due to the sheer mass that a truck occupies on our Pittsburgh highways, accidents involving trucks are often caused by blind spots, particularly when driving at high speeds. Therefore, it’s important for drivers to learn where a commercial vehicle’s blind spots are located, why they are risky, how to avoid them, and what to do if a blind spot accident occurs.
Where are a truck’s blind spots located?
A truck has four blind spots. The front blind spot is dangerous when passing a truck and trying to merge back to the right. To avoid this, make sure you can fully see the driver and the top of the cabin. The side blind spots are on both sides of the truck. If you’re passing a truck on the right or a truck is passing you on the left, the driver may not be able to see you. The blind spot extends for nearly two lanes on the right side and a single lane on the left side, next to the truck’s cab. Sideswipe accidents are common when drivers are in these blind spots.
(Graphic courtesy of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration)
The final blind spot is behind the truck. If you have ever rented a moving truck with a container in the back, you might find yourself looking for a phantom-rearview mirror. Remember, trucks don’t have rearview mirrors, so the blind spot can extend up to a staggering 200 feet from the back of the truck. For context, a car traveling 60 mph covers 88 feet per second, so keep a safe following distance. If you’re tailgating a truck and it needs to stop suddenly, you could initiate a serious rear-end accident.
How do I avoid a trucker’s blind spots?
A blind spot is an area where a driver cannot see other vehicles. A useful tip when passing a truck on the road is to look for the truck driver’s face in their side mirror. If you can see their eyes, they can see you, and you should be cleared to pass in the left lane. If you can see their face, they may not know you’re there, and an accident is far more likely to occur.
Aside from avoiding blind spots, are there other ways to stay safe around trucks?
When passing a truck, it’s crucial to do it safely. Make sure you signal your intention to switch lanes, and accelerate at a reasonable speed. Also, don’t merge back too close to the truck because it needs extra space to brake and turn. If you’re driving in a dense city, like Pittsburgh, be aware that trucks may need to start their turn from a middle lane, so give them plenty of room.
It’s also important to be patient. In the dynamic terrain of western Pennsylvania, there are many steep inclines and declines. Trucks with a full container of cargo will generally need time and space to accelerate in anticipation of a steep incline; otherwise, without forward momentum, they will be making their climb very slowly. The same awareness is necessary when approaching steep declines, as the truck’s momentum will carry them down hills at a high speed.
Driving aggressively will only increase your risk of an accident around trucks, so it is important to remember these rules of sharing the road with trucks. By following these tips, you can avoid accidents and help keep everyone on the roads safe.
(Infographic courtesy of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration)
Contact an experienced Pittsburgh truck accident attorney if you have been hurt
Even when you follow all of the rules of the road, accidents involving trucks can happen, but a measure of caution around these giants of the road will help mitigate the severity of any crashes that do occur.
Still, when an accident happens in a truck’s blind spot, it can be hard to know who is at fault. Sometimes, the driver in the blind spot is held responsible. But if the trucker was driving recklessly, merging improperly, or distracted, the injured party can build a strong case. There is also a potential for the trucking company to be at fault for over-burdening their driver and not following the extensive legislation put forth to ensure truck drivers have sufficient rest time to complete their haul safely. By following the above-stated safety measures, you also improve your case, as you are providing the truck driver with the courtesy afforded to them.
If you’ve been involved in a truck accident and suffered injuries due to the truck driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation in the form of a personal injury lawsuit. The Pittsburgh personal injury lawyers of Carmody & Ging, Attorneys at Law, have over 30 years of experience and knowledge. You may also want to read our client testimonials.
Our team can work to build a strong case against the truck driver, the trucking company, or both parties. We will fight to cover any medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and emotional distress that came as a direct result of your accident. Contact Carmody & Ging, Attorneys at Law, today for a free consultation.