TRUCK DRIVERS MUST FOLLOW RULES TO PREVENT LANE CHANGE ACCIDENTS
The rules for commercial truck drivers are different from the rules for drivers of passenger cars. A driver in a car typically has a nearly unobstructed view of traffic on all sides. Modern cars with obstructed views usually have cameras and other warning devices. In addition, a driver of a car can often feel and hear the presence of a large commercial vehicle that is close by. Truck drivers must monitor approaching traffic and traffic that is being passed so that they are aware if a vehicle has entered their blind spot. A blind spot is a truck driver’s responsibility, never an excuse. Commercial truck drivers are trained to continuously monitor their mirrors to have remain aware of all vehicles that are around their trucks, including those that have entered the driver’s blind spots. When mirrors are properly adjusted and the windshield of the truck is not obstructed, there is no excuse for a driver either not being able to see what is in the blind spot or not knowing that a vehicle has entered a blind spot.
The Federal Highway Administration as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation ordered a review of commercial motor vehicle accidents to create a manual to prevent accidents. This publication is called Commercial Vehicle Preventable Accident Manual, A Guide to Countermeasures. The manual describes the applicable problem as follows: “Lane use and lane changing accidents primarily involve sideswiping and rear-end collisions. The existence of blind spots around large vehicles is a major contributing factor. Drivers must maintain a proper following distance and take note of countermeasures involving right-of-way.” Under driving tips, the manual provides: “Blind spots to the right of large vehicles are well known. However, automobile drivers may not know you cannot see them as they pass you on the right. Scan to the right thoroughly before steering into the next lane. Give right-of-way, don’t take it.” Pg. 28. The manual further advises drivers to “[c]lean mirrors and check adjustments frequently.” Id.
Police officers often blame car drivers for lane change accidents with trucks based on witness statements. A common type of accident occurs when a tractor trailer changes from the left lane to the right and does not see a car sitting in the truck’s blind spot near the passenger side front of the tractor. As the truck changes lanes, it may hit the driver’s side rear of the car causing the car to spin to the left. The sound of the crash alerts a witness who sees what appears to be a car turning into the truck. Another common reason for police reports to blame the car driver is because the car driver is often dead, unconscious, or medically unable to speak to the police. The police are then left with the truck driver’s version. The opinions of a police officer are usually inadmissible in court. Even if the police report is unfavorable, you may wish to consult with a Board-Certified truck accident lawyer.
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