Trucks have larger and more numerous blind spots than passenger vehicles. This is due to several factors, including length and height of the truck and lack of rear view mirror.
- Due to the length of 18-wheelers – usually between 70 and 80 feet, with triple trailers up to 105 feet long – trucks have extremely limited visibility on both sides of the truck and in the back and front.
- The height of a truck would seem to be an advantage, but because the height difference is so drastic a truck driver may not be able to see a low-riding car. Being so high also limits the truck driver’s view of what is close in front of the truck.
- Trucks do not have rear view mirrors. Due to the height of the trailer behind a truck, a rear view mirror would only show the truck driver his/her own trailer. Truckers must rely on only two side mirrors to see where other vehicles are.
How to Avoid No-Zones
More than 80 percent of accidents involving a truck are the fault of the non-commercial driver. In 1994, the No-Zone program was introduced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to teach the public how to safely share the road with trucks and buses. According to the FMCSA, No-Zones are areas where cars “disappear” from the view of the truck or bus driver; these places are where crashes are most likely to occur.
The No-Zone program and the American Trucking Association (ATA) offer the following advice to drivers of passenger vehicles:
- Do not cut in front of trucks or buses. Large commercial vehicles need much more space to stop and cutting in front of them may not afford them enough time or space to brake. Make sure you can see the whole front end of the truck before pulling back into the lane in front of it.
- Do not linger along the side of a truck. If you find yourself next to a truck, quickly and safely pass the vehicle or back off so the driver can see you. A good indication of whether you’re out of the blind spot is if you can see the driver’s face in his/her side mirror.
- Pass on the left, when possible. Due to the position of the truck driver in the cab, he/she has a smaller blind spot on the left side. On the right side, the blind spot of a truck runs the length of the truck and extends out three lanes.
- Stay back – give trucks at least a four second following distance (this is 20 to 25 car lengths). Truck drivers cannot see anything close behind the truck, so if you follow too closely the driver isn’t aware you’re back there. When the trucker isn’t aware of your position and has to make a sudden stop or maneuver, you may rear-end the truck. Additionally, trucks create a lot of wind pressure, which can be dangerous for cars. If you cannot see both mirrors when you are following a truck, then you are too close.
- More information also at the Truckers Association.
photo credit: Truck Driver News