Blind spots... the downfall of drivers everywhere. We all have them on our vehicles, but some are more cumbersome than others. You think you have big blind spots in your SUV? Semi trucks have four HUGE blind spots that you, the passenger vehicle, must avoid at all costs.
According to the USDOT, approximately 413,000 accidents are caused by blind-spot related problems annually. The blind spots for trucks are very large and extend out into several lanes. If you're not paying attention and cruising along in one of them, a number of dangerous accidents can occur. Avoid them from the start by getting informed!
The Blind Spots
Every vehicle has blind spots. Your passenger vehicle has blind spots. That behemoth 18-wheeler has blind spots too...only they're much, MUCH larger. The four blind spots for trucks are located:
- Directly in front of the truck's cab. The nose of the tractor blocks the view of any cars directly in front of the truck.
- Directly behind the trailer. If you're driving behind a truck and cannot see the driver's side mirrors, they cannot see you.
- Along the driver's side door and trailer, extending out a couple lanes.
- Along and back behind the passenger side door, extending out three lanes.
Driving in any one of these spots is not a safe place to be - 1/3 of fatal crashes between passenger vehicles and large trucks occur in one of these 4 areas. Several different types of accidents can occur in a truck's blind spots including underrides, rear-end collisions, and sideswipes, and they can be very dangerous.
Underrides happen when a passenger vehicle is driving too closely behind a tractor trailer. Say the truck brakes suddenly to avoid a hazard ahead. If you're following too closely, you cannot brake in time, and it's possible for the passenger vehicle to actually slide under the back end of the semi's trailer. This is very dangerous -- often fatal.
Many drivers believe they'll be ok if they cut right in front of a semi because they figure, "they're slow vehicles, they'll stop." WRONG. It's very dangerous to cut right in front of a semi. You'll be in the blind spot in front of their cab. It takes a long time to stop 80,000 pounds, so if you cut in front and slam on your brakes when you're driving at any substantial speed, there's a high likelihood that chunk of steel will become very well acquainted with your back bumper.
Sideswiping accidents occur when you're driving in one of the two blind spots along the length of the tractor trailer. These large blind spots make it difficult for truck drivers to merge and/or change lanes. If you're putzing along in one, a truck driver can't see you. Guess what happens when he tries to change lanes and doesn't know you're back there? Yep -- you get sideswiped. Sideswipes are dangerous as they can push you off the road or into oncoming traffic.
The key thing to remember is this: if you can't see the truck driver, he can't see your car. Next time you hit the highway, make sure you're paying attention to where your car is in relation to the truck. Honestly, the best course of action is avoidance. Steer clear of semis if possible, and keep these 4 blind spots in mind.
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