Trucks are dangerous enough when they travel in a straight line. Controlling a truck is even more difficult during a turn. They’re big and bulky, and their blind spots are large. This is why so many commercial drivers are required to have a special license to operate trucks; they need to be safe, and other drivers do, too.
Today, we’re going to look at some of the dangers of different types of truck turns, so that you can be safe while you’re sharing the road with a commercial vehicle.
U-turn truck accidents
The trucking industry generally advocates against any type of U-turn. U-turn accidents are dangerous because of:
- Reduced driver visibility. Even with mirrors and video-assist technology, truck drivers have difficulty seeing around them. When trucks make a U-turn, the drivers need to check in multiple directions, at multiple angles, and across multiple lanes. Having “spotters” isn’t always possible, and even then, those people outside the truck are at risk of an injury.
- The trucks need to cross several lanes. Any type of rig or tractor-trailer is likely going to need two lanes just to complete the first half of the turn and another two lanes to complete the second part of the turn.
Trucks that make U-turns are just asking for trouble. If a truck makes a U-turn, the driver may be liable for punitive damages because the maneuver is usually reckless. Drivers that do make U-turns should be trained on the proper safety procedures.
Wide turn truck accidents
Wide turn accidents can occur at intersections. They can also happen when a tractor-trailer or other large truck turns into a building to pick up or drop off their deliveries. Some of the reasons wide-turn maneuvers cause accidents include:
- The length of the truck. Semis and delivery trucks are very long. This often means that the truck turns into another lane to have enough room to swing back into the turning lane.
- Trucks end up straddling lanes. Truck drivers often straddle the lane next to them before making the turn so they’re in a better position to start and complete the turn. Alternatively, if they stay in their lane as long as possible, the driver needs to swing out even more when it starts its turn.
- The first problem with straddling another lane is that vehicles to the right of the truck will improperly think the truck is turning left. They’ll try to sneak into the right of the trailer to make the light. When the truck turns back into the right lane, the driver on the right side won’t have anywhere to go and will be crushed.
- The second problem is that the truck driver who straddles the left lane to make a right turn may strike a car already in the left lane.
- The tractor wheels and trailer wheels don’t turn in unison. This means the trailer may not necessarily follow the same path as the tractor.
- The driver can’t see cars around him/her. Drivers may be able to see cars and other vehicles to their left by using their mirror or just turning their head. It is nearly impossible for the driver to see vehicles in the rear. It is almost always impossible for the driver to see cars to the right of the truck or tractor-trailer combination. This is one of the reasons that trucks turning right are more likely to crush a car than trucks making left-hand turns.
Trailers with tandem trailers (two sets of trailers behind each other) will have an even larger difficulty making a turn.
What can truckers do to make turns safer?
Big rig drivers, like any drivers, need to be aware of their surroundings while they’re on the road, especially during turns. A CDL study guide provided by DrivingRules.net suggests the following for truck turns:
- Go slow. Don’t try to rush through turns.
- Wait to go wide. During right turns, truckers should try to keep the rear part of the truck as close to the curb as possible.
- Stay outside. When there are multiple turning lanes, stay in the outside lane. This gives the truck more space to turn.
- Use the intersection. Truck drivers should pull all the way into the intersection before attempting to turn. This makes their intentions clear and gives them more space.
The guide also reminds truck drivers about the “space needed to cross or enter traffic.” It says:
Be aware of the size and weight of your vehicle when you cross or enter traffic. Here are some important things to keep in mind:
Because of slow acceleration and the space large vehicles require, you may need a much larger gap to enter traffic than you would in a car.
Acceleration varies with the load. Allow more room if your vehicle is heavily loaded.
Before you start across a road, make sure you can get all the way across before traffic reaches you.
At the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, our Nashville truck accident lawyers have been fighting for accident victims for nearly two decades. We work to show how the accident occurred and who is responsible. Often, trucking companies are liable along with the truck driver. To discuss your truck accident case with a seasoned personal injury and wrongful death lawyer, call us now at 615-425-2500 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We maintain offices in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Clarksville for your convenience.