Tractor-Trailer “No-Zones” Are Just Trucking Industry Propaganda
For years, state and federal highway safety agencies have staged so-called public awareness campaigns to inform drivers about the blind spots — or as they’re often called, “No-Zones” — around large trucks.
Unfortunately, these campaigns — although they may be fueled by good intentions — are largely the product of efforts from trucking industry lobbyists, publicists, and lawyers to shield trucking companies from liability. Trucking companies know that their trucks kill people in these spots, and they know how to reliably, effectively, and economically detect cars in these areas using common methods and technologies. Unfortunately, many trucking companies would rather blame truck wreck victims instead of making minimal adjustments and small increases in spending to save lives.
While it’s not a bad idea to know about the most dangerous areas near a commercial truck on the road for your own safety, the bottom line is that there’s no excuse for trucks to crash into vehicles in these spots, as they are aware of the danger and can easily eliminate these alleged blind spots. The sooner the trucking industry is forced to reckon with these preventable accidents, the safer our highways will be.
Where Are a Tractor-Trailer’s Blind Spots?
Tractor-trailers typically have three major blind spots in the area around the vehicle. These blind spots fall within the following locations:
- On both sides of the vehicle, extending backward at a 45-degree angle from the cab.
- Directly in front of the truck in the same lane, and in the next lane over to the right.
- Directly behind the truck.
A disproportionate number of the 4,000 fatalities that result from large truck crashes each year do involve a truck hitting a vehicle in one of these three locations. However, that doesn’t mean passenger vehicle drivers bear the responsibility for these wrecks. In fact, the trucking industry could eliminate many of these crashes simply by adopting common-sense safety measures.
Proper Mirror Adjustment: The First Line of Defense Against Blind Spots
The idea that truck mirrors can’t be adjusted to cover blind spots is largely a myth. In fact, truck drivers can nearly eliminate blind spots with a properly-adjusted system of side-mounted convex mirrors and a fender-mounted convex mirror on the vehicle’s right side. In addition, many trucks have a glass window in the bottom part of the passenger door that allows the driver to see cars and motorcycles to the right of the tractor-trailer.
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Unfortunately, far too many truck drivers either haven’t been trained by their employers on how to adjust their mirrors properly or don’t take the time to do so. To help drivers set their mirrors, safety experts have recommended that truck and bus companies employ “mirror-check stations” that have calibrated markings to help truckers and bus drivers set their mirrors accurately.
While a full outdoor mirror-check station can take up a lot of space, more compact vertical mirror-check stations also exist and can help smaller trucking companies implement these stations in a manageable way. Since mirror-check stations aren’t required by law, however, many trucking companies don’t institute them and don’t bother to help their drivers set their mirrors properly. This is a classic industry failure that sets up poorly-trained truck drivers for failure.
Radar and Other Safety Measures Could Prevent “No-Zone” Crashes
New developments in technology offer even more reliable ways to eliminate tractor-trailer blind spots. For example, radar- and camera-based detection units have been available for decades. These systems can identify cars, pedestrians, cyclists, and other objects in a truck’s blind spots and warn the driver if a collision seems likely. The Eaton Vorad radar system, for example, has been in use since 1995. Daimler (the truck division of Mercedes-Benz) unveiled one the most sophisticated and comprehensive blind-spot detection systems for commercial trucks in September 2014, and the company will offer this system on new commercial trucks once it finishes the testing and validation process.
Regardless of which safety measures trucking companies use to address blind spots, though, the fact remains that trucking companies have known about the hazards presented by tractor-trailer blind spots for decades and have no excuse for not taking adequate measures to protect their drivers and others on the road from the danger of these spots. In many cases, “No-Zone” awareness campaigns simply serve as another way for negligent trucking companies to shift the blame toward unsuspecting car and motorcycle drivers and avoid liability.
Contact Truck Wreck Justice If You’ve Been Injured in a Trucking Accident
If you or a loved one has been injured or if you’ve lost a loved one in a crash involving a large truck or bus, you need a determined and experienced advocate like Truck Wreck Justice Attorney Morgan Adams. With decades of experience and a sole focus on large vehicle cases, Morgan Adams has the skills and resources required to tackle the complicated legal issues surrounding a trucking accident. His firm is aware of the tricks and schemes the trucking industry uses to avoid liability for the harm they cause, and unlike “jack-of-all-trades and master of none” attorneys, Truck Wreck Justice’s sole focus on these wrecks often results in more favorable offers from trucking company insurance carriers. In addition, when unfairly low settlement offers are made, our lawyers won’t hesitate to take your case to trial and stand up for your rights in court.
Please contact Truck Wreck Justice at (432) 265-2020 or fill out our online contact form if you are seeking legal representation or assistance. We offer free consultations to help you gain a better understanding of your legal options, and we handle cases on a contingent-fee basis, which means that you’ll only pay fees or case expenses if we achieve a monetary recovery on your behalf.
Jeffrey, C. (2014, September 3). Mercedes-Benz unveils Blind Spot Assist technology for trucks. New Atlas. Retrieved from http://newatlas.com/mercedes-benz-daimler-radar-blindspot-assist-trucks/33625/
Large truck and bus crash facts 2014. (2016, April 15). Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from (https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2014
Moran, T. (2004, February 2). Radar brings vision to cars’ blind spots. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/02/automobiles/autos-on-monday-technology-radar-brings-vision-to-cars-blind-spots.html?_r=0