“If You Can Read This, I Can’t See You.”
You may have seen this on the back of a semi-tractor-trailer. Semi trucks in the U.S. are an average of 72 feet long, 8½ feet wide, and 13½ feet tall. A big rig can have a gross weight of up to 80,000 pounds.
That’s indeed a big rig, and the operator of an 18-wheeler can’t see everywhere around his or her truck. There are what are known as “blind spots” that are places that a truck driver is unable to see. Read more from our experienced Atlanta truck accident lawyer Atlanta residents trust below about blind spots and how you can drive safely when encountering a semi on the roads of Georgia.
What’s a Blind Spot?
A “blind spot” is an area around truck that the driver can’t directly see while they’re driving.
Automobile drivers have them, too. For example, when a car driver is watching the road ahead, he or she can’t see 120⸰ to their left without the aid of mirrors and turning their head. Another vehicle can easily be in this blind spot and create an accident if the driver fails to see them.
There are blind spots for truck drivers, too, but no mirror can help him or her see 72 feet behind the trailer. A big rig doesn’t have a rear-view mirror, so they can’t see what’s right behind them. That’s why tractor-trailers have signs on their vehicles that say “If You Can Read This, I Can’t See You.” The truck driver is warning other drivers that you’re in his or her blind spot and that not knowing what you’re doing there can cause a major accident and injuries. Driving in a truck’s blind spots hinders the trucker’s ability to take evasive action to avoid a dangerous situation.
Where are the Primary Blind Spots on a Semi?
Those in the trucking industry call a large blind spot a “No-Zone.” The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) says that No-Zones are areas where cars “disappear” from the sight of the semi driver. And these are where crashes are most likely to happen.
There are four main No Zones or blind spots for commercial trucks:
- Directly in front of the semi. Although a truck driver is sitting six to eight feet off the road, the engine compartment in the front of the cab can extend 4½ feet (bumper to front axle). That means the truck driver can’t see anything closer than 20 feet in from of the cab.
- Directly behind the 18-wheeler. If you are unable to see the truck driver’s reflection in his or her side mirror, you’re in the truck driver’s blind spot and they can’t see you. Stay back at least 30 feet.
- The left side of the truck. This blind spot is under the cab mirror. Remember it’s about 7½ feet from the ground to the bottom of the semi cab’s window, so that’s a lot of real estate that the truck driver can’t see.
- The right side of the semi. This blind spot is under the cab mirror and extending out. This side is more dangerous than the left because the driver can’t even turn his or her head to look down where the mirrors don’t cover.
How Can Car Drivers Avoid a Semi’s Blind Spots?
Here are some ways Georgia passenger vehicle drivers can avoid truck blind spots and help prevent serious accidents and injuries:
- Pass on the left if possible. With the truck driver situated on the left side of the cab behind the wheel, there’s a blind spot on the left side. Moreover, on the other side, the blind spot runs the length of the truck and extends out three lanes to the right.
- Don’t cut off a semi. Big rigs require significantly more distance to stop than a passenger vehicle, and cutting in front of a truck may not give them sufficient time or space to apply the brakes safely. Make certain that you’re able to see the entire front end of the truck before pulling back into the lane in front of it.
- Don’t hang out along the side of a semi. Some people feel that they’re safer or can save gas by “drafting” off the truck, but you should always pass quickly and safely… or in the alternative slow down so the driver can see you. In fact, trucks create substantial wind pressure that can make it difficult to main control of a car.
- Give trucks some room. Georgia passenger vehicle drivers can help avoid trouble by allowing a semi at least a four-second following distance (roughly 20-25 car lengths).
Truck drivers have a responsibility to safely change lanes and to watch for other vehicles, but everyone on Georgia’s roads has the responsibility to drive safely and avoid crashes if possible. Even so, a truck driver’s failure to properly check blind spots is a common cause of many commercial truck accidents in Georgia. A truck driver may also fail to adjust the truck’s mirrors, and a trucking company’s inadequate training can also cause blind spot accidents.
Remember: a good test of whether you’re in a truck blind spot is if you can see the driver’s face in his or her side mirror. If you can’t see them, they can’t see you!
Contact An Experienced Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney
If you’ve been injured in an accident with a semi, work with an experienced Atlanta truck accident lawyer Atlanta residents trust. Contact us and we will work to get you the compensation you deserve, including compensation for property damage. With our experience and skills, we know what to look for when suing a trucking company.
You can contact an experienced Atlanta truck accident lawyer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 404-JUSTICE (404-587-8423) or using our online contact form. Tobin Injury Law offers free consultations and will be glad to answer your questions.