Blind Spots Trucking Accident Lawyer in Boston, MA
You may have seen the diamond-shaped placards on the side of a semi-truck that say, “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.”
Every vehicle has blind spots, but the massive height and size of a semi-truck means that truckers have more blind spots, and they’re much larger than for those operating smaller vehicles. Cars, bicyclists and pedestrians located in a trucker’s blind spot virtually disappear from the view of the trucker.
Boston truck accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman know, however, that while it is certainly tougher for a truck driver to see other vehicles in certain areas – particularly smaller road users like motorcyclists and bicyclists – a more accurate name for “blind spots” is probably “fail-to-look spots.”
Truck crashes kill an estimated 4,000 people in the U.S. a year, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Whatever measures can be taken to reduce the odds of a fatal crash are measures worth taking – or at least examining.
Truck drivers, who move some 11.5 billion tons of freight annually, can and should anticipate that other drivers are sharing the road and ensure they give any drivers whom they may not easily be able to spot adequate fair warning of their next maneuver.Truck Drivers Owe a Duty to Check Blind Spots, Change Lanes Carefully
It is the responsibility of the truck driver to change lanes and turn carefully. Truck drivers are trained to use their mirrors to check these areas before making lane changes or turning and to use their signal to alert any obscured drivers to their intention.
It should be noted that trucks don’t have rear-view mirrors like other cars. But truck mirrors are as tall as 25 inches and an increasing number have cameras installed.
Safe trucking technology intended to help avoid truck accidents has advanced exponentially in recent years. An increasing number of truck carriers are buying semi-trucks with “smart” features, such as lane departure warnings, electronic stability controls, forward collision warnings and side view assists. (Side view assist warnings especially have great potential to drive down the number of catastrophic truck accidents caused by truckers overrunning someone in a blind spot.)
Some carriers are having them retrofitted to older truck models. Though there is no requirement to do so, the cost is negligible considering the fact they can alert truckers to a vehicle hidden in a blind spot and help prevent a catastrophic accident.
One study conducted by the National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence at Virginia Tech revealed that trucking companies CAN reduce the number of truck accidents by prioritizing safety with best management practices and the increased use of advanced technology.
That doesn’t mean the trucker can see everything, though, which is why it is so important for truckers to drive predictably. That means:
- Obeying the speed limit;
- Signaling any turns or lane changes well in advance of a maneuver;
- Avoiding distraction and fatigue.
All of these actions are covered under statutory laws and failing to abide by them can be used as evidence that a driver breached his or duty to use reasonable care when sharing the road.Tips for Staying Safe When Driving Near a Large Truck
The driver who is changing lanes or making a turn bears the greater responsibility to ensure this can be done safely. That said, it’s still a smart idea for motorists sharing a highway or street with large trucks to drive defensively and use extra caution.
The four key areas other motorists should avoid when sharing the road with a tractor-trailer are:
- Left side, under the cab mirror;
- Right side, under the cab mirror and extending out;
- In front of the truck, at least 20 feet;
- Behind the trailer, at least 30 feet.
These are often referred to as “No-Zones,” and cars within them have a greater chance of being struck by the rig.
In addition to being mindful of these areas and steering clear where possible, some other guidelines to help keep you safe include:
- Allow for plenty of space when driving or switching lanes in front of a large truck. Bear in mind the hood of a semi-truck conceals a portion of the road in front of the truck. If you are about to pull in front of a truck, make sure you can see the entire front of it – including both headlights – in the rearview. Also remember that trucks often need the space in front of them in order to stop suddenly, especially during poor weather. Leave enough space when switching lanes to ensure the truck driver does not have to stop suddenly.
- Avoid following too closely. It is never a good idea to tailgate anyone, but this is especially true when you’re navigating around a big rig.
- Pass trucks with great care. This is important because of these blind spots. You’ll want to signal early, pass quickly (if possible) or fall back slightly so you can ensure you aren’t “hidden” for any extended length of time. Be aware that if you’re in a smaller vehicle, you might experience some degree of turbulence when moving out from behind the back of a truck.
- Steer clear of the right side of a truck that is turning right. Large semi-tractor-trailers need to approach right turns from a position that’s far left – sometimes taking up a whole extra lane.
If you are hurt in a truck accident in Boston stemming from a trucker’s failure to check his or her blind spot, there may be grounds for compensation from several entities.
First and foremost, the trucker who failed to use reasonable care in checking a blind spot may be held liable. Often, truck drivers are independent contractors who carry their own commercial driver insurance policy.
Your truck accident attorney may also explore compensation from the trucking carrier in one of two ways. If the driver was an employee, the trucking carrier can be held vicariously liable for the negligent actions of its employee under a legal doctrine known as respondeat superior. While a carrier generally can’t be liable for the negligence of an independent contractor, they can be held to account for direct negligence, such as failure to ensure all the truck’s systems were in good working order or not properly vetting a driver. Further, your lawyer may explore whether the independent contractor label is even appropriate, as many companies wrongly assign this designation to a worker who should in fact be designated an employee. A final determination may be made from the court based on:
- The amount of control a carrier has over a driver;
- The main occupation of the driver;
- How the company pays the driver;
- The length of relationship between the two parties;
- Who owns the truck.
Other potential defendants include the truck manufacturer (if a system malfunction was a crash factor), third-party mechanics responsible for maintenance and the owner of the truck.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.
Call (617) 367-2900 – NO FEE UNLESS SUCCESSFUL