The trucking industry is a challenging field requiring many skilled and experienced drivers. There is no doubt that if you’re committed enough, you can master maneuvering these large commercial vehicles.
What you need most to handle trucks is a vast space. Due to their large size, turning, backing up, crossing intersections, and even getting into a parking spot requires more space than regular vehicles.
On top of that, the larger these trucks get, the harder it will be to view your surroundings when driving. Hence, what you get are blind spots that can cause a lot of trouble if you don’t know how to overcome them.
What Is a Blind Spot?
By definition, a blind spot is an area around a vehicle where other vehicles can’t be seen in the sideview or rearview mirrors. A truck’s blind spots are called “no zones.”
When you drive near a truck in its no zones, there is a higher chance that the truck driver won’t notice your presence or, worse, a possibility of getting into a collision.
Some trucks with triple trailers can measure around 100 feet long, leading to more significant blind spots that limit the driver’s perspective.
As a driver, it is your responsibility always to be aware of all the blind spots that trucks have. And if you’re a truck driver, it is more critical for you to be careful when driving on a busy highway.
Accidents often happen when smaller cars are in the truck’s blind spots when the truck driver changes lanes.
Where Are the Blind Spots on a Truck?
Most trucks have four blind spots, which are located on:
Most of the time, truck drivers can’t see less than 20 feet in front of them.
Specifically, they can’t see in front of the hood without an angled-down front mirror. This is caused by the height of the hood or front bumper high above the ground.
Smaller cars, children passing by, and small animals are in danger when crossing the front because a truck driver’s view is limited at the front.
The back is the most dangerous blind spot you should be aware of. Both you and the truck are in danger of colliding if you drive too close to each other.
You can’t see what’s in front, and the truck driver doesn’t know about your presence behind the trailer.
Trucks also move slower than regular and smaller vehicles. Hence, it is much easier for you to be in the truck’s blind spot.
One way to tell whether you’re in the truck’s blind spot is by looking at the truck’s side mirrors. If you can’t see the driver’s face, they can’t see you, and you are certainly driving in their blind spot.
The Right Side
Aside from the front and rear, the right side of a truck is a dangerous place to be, especially when you’re on a narrow road or too close to the truck.
Although most trucks have side mirrors, drivers can still make mistakes and overlook the presence of other vehicles besides the truck. Try not to be in the right lane for too long when passing a truck.
If you feel unsure of passing them, take it easy and get out of their blind spots. It is better to be safe than sorry.
The Left Side
Although the left side is less dangerous than the right, this doesn’t eliminate the fact that the truck driver still can’t see you unless you’re across from the truck’s side door.
Like the back blind spot, the best way to ensure that the truck driver can see you is by looking at their sideview mirrors and looking for the driver’s face.
However, there is always a higher chance that they can’t see you due to the height of their seat and the truck itself.
As always, please drive carefully and don’t stay too close for too long on their left side.
How to Avoid Trucks’ Blind Spots
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), drivers of smaller cars should be cautious around all the blind spots that trucks have.
Here are a few tips on how to avoid trucks’ blind spots:
- If you’re driving in the left lane alongside a truck, make sure you’re next to the cab. Otherwise, slow down and stay well behind the truck.
- Avoid passing a truck on the right. You are more likely to be trapped between the truck and a car or wall and get badly hurt. To properly pass the truck, change lanes well behind the truck and overtake the truck on the left.
- Make sure you can see the entire cab in your mirror before changing lanes in front of a truck. After merging, maintain speed and distance to avoid getting in the front blind spot.
- Driving in the same lane as the truck doesn’t eliminate your risk of an accident. In fact, you might be able to see and base your action on your quick reflex, but the truck driver can’t. So, the best move is to stay 20 feet ahead or more than 30 feet behind the truck while in the same lane. However, depending on the truck’s size, you may need to maintain a greater distance.
- If you’re driving in the lane to the right of the truck, the only safe distance for that lane is at least 30 feet behind the truck. If you are two lanes to the right of the truck, stay slightly ahead or at least 20 feet behind to avoid the truck’s blind spot.
How Truck Drivers Can Reduce Blind Spots
Aside from the drivers of regular vehicles, truck drivers bear the greatest responsibility for keeping their trucks safe and away from dangerous situations.
To combat the blind spots issues, truck drivers can implement some of the following steps.
Position Every Mirror Properly
Positioning every mirror on the truck is critical in ensuring that the drivers’ view isn’t restricted to just what they can see within their normal field of vision. When they can see clearer, this could reduce blind spots and avoid mistakes on the road.
Install Extra Mirrors and Safety Accessories
There is no harm in having more mirrors on the truck. In fact, by installing extra mirrors on each side of the hood, you can reduce the blind spots in the right and left lanes.
You can also install another mirror on the passenger side to better view traffic on the right side.
If you don’t mind investing in high-tech equipment, there are many safety accessories you can get on the market. These include wide-angle cameras, backup cameras and sensors, and fish-eye mirrors.
Double-Check the Blind Spots
Truck drivers should always look twice at the mirrors or cameras before changing lanes. Be sure no car is present on each side of the truck, use turn signals, and slowly switch lanes.
Make sure the truck’s mirrors are clean, as dirt can restrict your vision, especially at night.
Never Drive in a Sleepy and Tired State
Driving is an activity that takes a lot of physical and mental energy. Although you might think that sitting in the driver’s seat is easy, staying in that position for hours can drain your energy.
So, get enough sleep before driving for a long trip. You should also rest if you’re tired and continue your drive when fully recharged.
Weariness and exhaustion can lead to impaired cognitive abilities and cause you to make poor judgments when driving.