Typically, the bigger the vehicle, the bigger the blind spot. This is particularly true of tractor-trailer trucks, which are approximately 72 feet long, more than 8 feet wide, 13.5 feet tall, and can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. These vehicles are more than 40 times the weight of the average passenger car and can present a serious danger to other drivers when the operator is negligent.
Commercial truck drivers have a duty to safely operate their trucks on all roads and interstate highways. Truck drivers are required to make good decisions based upon what observe on these roadways. The view through the windshield of these large vehicles lets a truck driver know what is ahead, but the view to the rear and the areas surrounding the truck are much more severely limited than passenger vehicles.
All semi-trucks have sizeable blind spots in the rear and along the sides of the truck that represent the danger areas where crashes are more likely to happen. These blind spots, commonly known as “no-zones” are areas where a car virtually disappears from the truck driver’s sight. Trucks typically have four primary blind spots:
- Directly in front of the truck’s cab, extending out approximately 20 feet.
- Beneath and behind the driver’s window.
- Along the right side of the truck’s cab, spreading diagonally backward.
- Immediately behind the truck’s trailer, covering around 30 feet.
Generally, if you can’t see a truck driver’s face in the side mirror of his truck, they cannot see you either. If possible, passenger car drivers should never linger in the blind spots of a truck where they will remain hidden from a trucker’s vision. If you find yourself stuck in a blind spot, slow down or move ahead to help stay visible.
Ways to turn no-zones into ‘know-zones’
Proper mirrors can turn No Zones in ‘Know Zones.’ According to Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, every bus, truck, and truck tractor is required to be outfitted with two rear-vision mirrors (one on each side of the vehicle) mounted on the outside of the truck so the driver can see the highway to the rear along with both sides of the vehicle. On trucks in which the driver has a view to the rear via an interior mirror, only one outside mirror is required.
For extra precautions, truck drivers can install additional mirrors. Installing one on each side of the truck’s hood can reduce the size of the blind spots in the left and right lanes, and an additional mirror on the passenger side can help the driver see traffic passing on the right side.
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 111 requires that school buses be outfitted with two individual mirror systems. These include:
- System A – outside flat mirrors (one on each side) with a reflective surface of not less than 50 square inches each, and located on each side of the bus to provide rear-vision for the driver for vehicles that might be approaching from the rear.
- System B – two convex mirrors with a reflective surface not less than 40 square inches each, with a radius of curvature not more than 35 inches, for the purpose of providing the driver with a frontal view of the bus.
These mirror systems must overlap so as to provide the driver with views of the front and the two sides of the bus.
Truck camera monitor systems (CMS) also known as blind spot detection systems, can also reduce blind spot crashes. These systems are designed to give truck drivers a 360-degree view of the area surrounding their truck, providing drivers with a clear view of what is happening around them.
CMS systems work by placing cameras in deliberate places around the truck to offer a live-feed video stream of the truck’s surroundings and allow the driver to see what is happening in the blind spots around their vehicle. These camera views can then be viewed on a monitor inside the truck cab to give drivers a widespread view of their surroundings. CMS systems are particularly useful to truckers when they navigate tight turns, merge with traffic, or attempt to back up the truck.
Liability for truck blind spot accidents in Kentucky
More than one party can be liable for blind spot-related truck accidents. For example:
- The driver of a passenger vehicle might be to blame if they remained in the truck’s blind spot.
- The truck driver could be held responsible if they didn’t check their mirrors or signal while changing lanes.
- The trucking company can be vicariously liable if it failed to properly hire, train, and supervise employees, or if its employee was negligent at the time of the crash.
- The manufacturer or distributor of the truck or its parts may be liable for the collision if a faulty component like a defector mirror or sensor led to the crash.
The victim of a blind spot truck accident will have the burden of proving the truck driver and/or their company is liable via a thorough investigation and evidence of negligence. Surveillance footage, police reports, or testimony from accident reconstruction experts can also help determine liability. To establish another party’s negligence, the injured party must prove the following elements:
- Duty of Care. The at-fault party owed other drivers a duty of care (a truck driver must follow the rules of the road to keep others safe).
- Breach of Duty. The liable party breached that duty (failed to check blind spot, tailgated another vehicle, or changed lanes abruptly).
- Causation. The defendant’s breach of duty caused the injury (the truck driver crashed into another vehicle, causing injuries).
- Damages. The injured party suffered damages. (medical expenses, lost wages, etc.)
Were you involved in a serious truck accident in Kentucky? Wilt Injury Lawyers will fight to obtain fair compensation for your injuries. Call us or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation with one of our experienced lawyers today. If you are unable to travel to our offices in Lexington and Louisville due to your injuries, we can schedule a phone or video conference or meet with you at your hospital room.