Alabama’s Department of Transportation reports that there were more than 9,000 vehicle crashes involving trucks in 2015, the most recent year that data is available at this time. This is the highest number of truck-involved crashes in nearly a decade.
When these accidents happen, they are nearly always preventable. Unfortunately, due to their size and weight, semi-trucks tower over other passenger vehicles and are at a distinct disadvantage. While many people believe that these truck drivers have a bird’s eye view of everything happening on the road, this isn’t the case. The truth is that commercial trucks have limited visibility. Specifically, they have several blind spots that are referred to as “no zones.”
What is a Truck’s “No Zone”?
The term “no zone” comes from the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA), which has identified large areas around a commercial truck where the truck’s driver is unable to see passenger vehicles clearly, if at all. These are areas of limited visibility and where a truck crash is most likely to happen. There are four “no zone” areas around a truck.
The Front No Zone
Large commercial trucks can often move slow, which is frustrating for other drivers on the road. If you’ve ever been stuck behind a semi-truck for miles, you probably understand the temptation to swerve around them at the first opportunity.
This is a dangerous maneuver because there is a front blind spot with tractor-trailers that can extend as far as 20 feet beyond the truck’s cab. A Semi truck driver generally can’t see a vehicle in this zone, which can be deadly if a sudden stop becomes necessary.
If the truck driver can’t see a car directly in front of them, they will not be able to accurately judge their distance to stop. Thinking that the car ahead of you is the next car in line could lead to a dangerous accident where your vehicle becomes sandwiched in between a massive truck and another car.
The Rear No Zone
Tractor-trailers also have a significant blind spot immediately behind the semi’s trailer. Extending up to 200 feet, the no zone in the rear of the truck is not something you want to ignore. A motorist who follows a semi too closely could become involved in a serious accident since the truck driver may have no idea that you are behind them.
If a truck stops too fast and your car is in this no zone, you risk being involved in an underride accident. This happens when a passenger vehicle slides underneath a trailer, usually cutting off the top of the car and causing significant injury or even death to the vehicle’s occupants.
The Right No Zone
Believe it or not, a truck’s right no zone is the largest of the four blind spots. This area can extend as far as three lanes of traffic and begins roughly around the semi’s passenger side cab door. The blind spot extends outward to cover the lanes to the right of the truck.
Therefore it is so dangerous to pass a truck on the right or remain in a truck’s right no zone. If the driver can’t see you, you run the risk of getting hit or trapped when a truck makes an unexpected wide right turn.
The Left No Zone
The no zone on the left side of the truck is the smallest blind spot, but it can still be a dangerous zone for drivers. The rule of thumb is that if you can’t see the tractor-trailer’s mirrors, the driver of the truck probably can’t see you either.
Safely Sharing the Road with Semi Trucks
There are an estimated 15.5 million commercial trucks in the U.S., 2 million of which are tractor trailers. Sharing the road with these trucks can be dangerous, but you can take some steps to keep yourself and your passengers safe.
The first thing you can do is stay out of truck no-zones as much as possible. If you must pass a tractor-trailer, always do so on the left. Also, adjust your vehicle’s mirrors so that you can minimize your own blind spots and reduce the chances of an accident. If a crash does occur, you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney about your rights.
Speak with a Qualified Alabama Truck Accident Attorney
If you have been involved in a crash with a commercial truck, please contact Taylor Martino as soon as possible. Our experienced truck accident attorneys will investigate your accident and fight for the compensation you deserve. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 1-800-256-7728 or contact us online today.