Driving next to large trucks on I-57 can be stressful, but sharing a city road with a tractor-trailer is an entirely different game. Lanes are much smaller when traveling through urban areas of Marion, and drivers are often expected to navigate tight turns. Those narrow lanes and tight turns can be even more complicated to traverse when you are driving alongside a large truck.
Smaller motor vehicles are at a distinct disadvantage when sharing the road with big trucks. The attorneys at Prince Law Firm have seen time and time again how truck accidents can happen when a driver makes a wide turn.
Why Do Trucks Make Wide Turns?
While there are many working and moving pieces that make up a semi-truck, you probably only notice two of the main ones—the tractor unit where the driver sits and the detachable semi-trailer where cargo is stored. The two are connected by a fifth-wheel coupling and are just one of the reasons that trucks make wide turns:
- Multiple Moving Parts. When you watch a semi-truck try to navigate a turn, you’ll notice that the tractor unit and semi-trailer almost appear to move independently of one another. This is because the trailer unit does not actually follow the same path of the tractor. The unique combination of two moving parts in what is operating as a single vehicle means that truck drivers must make wide turns to properly realign the tractor and the trailer.
- Limited Visibility. Big trucks have larger blind spots than the average passenger vehicle. There are four main blind spots that extend to either side, the rear, and the front. Having limited visibility makes it very difficult to turn, especially if you cannot completely see whether there are any obstructions on the road or in the intersection you are turning into. When truck drivers make wide turns, they are creating a better view of the upcoming road so that they can safely complete the turn.
- Tipping Risks. Large commercial trucks can be as high as 14 feet, although the average tractor-trailer comes in at 13.5 feet. With heavy loads and relatively high centers of gravity, tractor-trailers are much more prone to tipping than smaller passenger vehicles. Making wide turns is one method for minimizing the risk of tipping over.
While trucks make both wide right and left turns, you might only notice it when a truck driver is turning right. Most left turns—especially those at intersections—are already wide by design. Most left turns provide truckers the space they need to successfully navigate the road. That is not to say that left-hand turns are not without risks. When lanes or intersections are particularly narrow, a truck driver might sweep the cab into the lane to the right before completing a left turn.
This is a milder version of the turning tactics truckers use when turning right. To safely complete a right-hand turn, truck drivers typically cannot initiate it while driving in the far-right lane. Instead, a truck driver will move into the adjoining lane to the left or even further before turning right.
It is this particular maneuver that leads to so many truck accidents. Imagine you are driving in the far-right lane, and ahead there is a tractor-trailer driving in the lane to your left. You might assume that you are both about to proceed straight through an intersection, but instead, the truck suddenly turns right, cutting off your safe path forward.
Any time that a truck turns from any lane other than the far-right lane, they have the potential to cause an accident with smaller motor vehicles. This is how truck accidents happen when a driver makes a wide turn.
How Do Truckers Signal Right Turns?
Truck drivers are required to signal a turn at least 100 feet beforehand. If you are traveling in the right-hand lane and the truck in the lane to your left has its right blinker on, it is likely no accident. Instead of assuming that the truck driver simply forgot to turn off the blinker after their left turn, assume that they intend to turn right.
How To Limit Your Risk of a Truck Turning Accident
Do not speed up if you spot a truck in the lane to your left with its right turn signal on. Never attempt to pass a turning truck. The blind spot on the right side of a semi-truck is large, extending out for two lanes and past the back of the trailer. A truck driver will not be able to spot your vehicle as you attempt to pass and may initiate its turn, leading to an accident that could be fatal.
Instead, when you are on the inside right lane behind a truck that is attempting to make a wide right turn, you should:
- Slow down and evaluate the situation
- Keep your distance
- Avoid the truck’s blind spot
- Do not suddenly change lanes
It is up to everyone on the road to practice safe driving habits that protect both themselves and other motorists. By practicing caution when approaching a turning truck, you can play a part in everyone’s safety.
Determining Fault in Truck Accidents
Truck accidents are often severe, with occupants of smaller passenger vehicles often taking the brunt of injuries and damages. Victims of truck accidents often need extensive medical care and recovery time. While taking time off work is often a necessary aspect of prioritizing your health and recovery, it can be financially devastating. There are options for help, though.
When a truck driver acts negligently by failing to signal a turn, navigating a turn too tightly, or failing to account for motorists in blind spots, Prince Law Firm works to hold trucking companies accountable. Since trucking companies already have big insurance companies and their own attorneys, we know how important it is for every injury victim to have someone on their side as well.
We won’t allow the trucking company or its insurer to pressure you into accepting anything less than what you deserve. From collecting the facts of your case and valuing your claim to negotiating directly with the insurance company, our lawyers will work tirelessly for you. At Prince Law Firm, we utilize information found in truck black boxes as well as a trucking company’s collision history to help determine liability.
Do not delay in seeking the help you need to recover. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.