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What to Know about Semi-Truck Blind Spots

May 8, 2023

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When you’re driving, it’s extremely important to know exactly what’s in front of, next to, and behind your vehicle. However, your eyes and mirrors can’t show you everything. The areas around your vehicle that you can’t see with a quick left or right glance or by looking at your mirrors are your blind spots.

Blind spots can vary in size and location on cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs, but looking over your shoulder (or using a blind-spot monitoring system) is usually enough to let drivers know if it’s safe to merge, change lanes, or turn.

However, blind spots on semi-trucks are a different matter entirely. Because semi-trucks are much bigger than passenger vehicles, their blind spots are much bigger, too.

Drivers of passenger vehicles need to be aware of when they are driving in trucks’ blind spots to avoid putting themselves in danger.

Semi-Trucks Have 4 Blind Spots Called “No Zones”

Most passenger vehicles have only two blind spots—the areas directly behind their left and right sides that aren’t displayed in their side-view mirrors.

Semi-trucks have those blind spots along with two others. Together, these four blind spots are called No Zones, and drivers should avoid driving in them whenever possible.

No Zone 1: Up to 20 feet ahead of the front bumper

Because semi-trucks typically have large engines and grilles, and because drivers sit much higher in their cabins than drivers of other vehicles, they have front blind spots that can extend a dozen or more feet in front of them, at least one full car length. Never change lanes to be directly in front of a truck, and if a truck is directly behind you, change lanes.

No Zone 2: Driver-side door to the middle of the trailer

Semi-truck side mirrors can partially show drivers what’s next to them, but this area is a big blind spot that truck drivers can’t see without turning their heads. Sometimes, even a head turn isn’t enough for them to see vehicles in this area.

No Zone 3: Passenger-side door to the rear of the trailer up to three lanes in width

By far, the biggest blind spots on semi-trucks are the ones underneath and behind their passenger side doors. Because truck drivers can’t rely on head turns to see out of their passenger side windows, they must rely on their mirrors, which only show a small section of the road in this massive No Zone.

No Zone 4: Directly behind the trailer

The blind spot behind a semi-truck’s trailer can be around two car lengths. When a truck’s side mirrors aren’t visible to a driver directly behind it, they’re in the rear No Zone. Drivers who maintain safe following distances behind semi-trucks can easily stay out of this blind spot.

No Zone 3 Is Most Dangerous When Trucks Make Right Turns

Being in any of a truck’s four No Zones can be dangerous, but Zone 3 most commonly results in crashes when semi-trucks make right turns. To complete right turns, truckers often swing out wide or even begin their turns from left lanes. Truck drivers should wait for other vehicles to pass before making turns, but if other vehicles are in their Zone 3 No Zone, truck drivers may fail to see them and turn anyway.

When this happens, drivers often crash into the cabs or trailers of the trucks turning in front of them. This is so common and dangerous that many semi-truck trailers have diagrams and warnings painted on them showing this exact type of crash to alert drivers behind them and help them avoid it.

If You Can’t See the Driver in a Truck’s Mirrors, You’re Probably in a No Zone

Depending on their height, size, trailer length, mirror type, and more, trucks’ No Zones may vary from vehicle to vehicle. This can make it difficult for passenger vehicle drivers to tell if they’re in a truck’s blind spot or not.

However, following two rules of thumb can help you determine if the truck driver can see you.

  • If you can’t see the truck’s side mirrors while driving behind its trailer, you’re definitely in a No Zone.
  • If you can’t see the driver’s face in the truck’s mirrors while driving to its left or right, you’re probably in a No Zone.

To ensure the driver can see you while driving alongside a truck, always stay in areas where the driver’s face is visible in the truck’s mirrors.

Don’t Count on a Truck Having Cameras or Blind-Spot Warning Systems

Commercial truck safety technology is improving, but not at the same rate as passenger vehicle technology. In addition, many of the semi-trucks and trailers on the road are older models. That means most semi-trucks and trailers on the road aren’t equipped with things like rear cameras or blind-spot warning systems.

When you’re driving in or near a truck’s No Zone, you should always assume the truck driver can’t see you and that their vehicle isn’t equipped with technology to alert them of your vehicle’s presence.

Truck Drivers Are Often Held Liable for Blind Spot Crashes

Drivers of passenger vehicles should do everything in their power to stay out of trucks’ No Zones. That includes never cutting off trucks (No Zone 1) or following them too closely (No Zone 4).

However, truck drivers—not passenger vehicle drivers—are typically held liable for most No Zone crashes. That’s because truck drivers are responsible for checking and being aware of their blind spots and not changing lanes, drifting, or turning into the paths of vehicles that may be in them.

Truck Accident Injury? Contact Our Ohio Truck Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation

Truck accidents can have many causes and many liable parties. In addition to drivers failing to properly check their blind spots, they can also be caused by truck companies overloading trailers, truck owners failing to maintain their trucks, and other negligent drivers forcing truck drivers to make dangerous maneuvers on the road.

At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, our Ohio truck accident attorneys look at the entire picture when we build truck accident claims for victims like you to determine who may be at fault. We work hard to ensure our clients get maximum compensation, and sometimes, that involves holding more than one party liable for their damages.

Contact us today for a free consultation. We have more than 90 years of experience helping injured victims in Ohio, and we want to help you and your family get the money you deserve.

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