We sometimes become so accustomed to sharing the road with big rigs that we forget about the horrific damage they can cause in an accident. Our best defenses against becoming a victim of one of these accidents is respect for the size and weight of the vehicles and a better understanding of the blind spots with which truckers must contend.
Most drivers are well aware of the concept of a vehicle’s “blind spots.” This term is used to describe areas outside of vehicles that a driver cannot see because of the vehicle design.
Another, lesser-known term that is often applied to tractor-trailers is “no-zones.” These are the areas outside of the truck that the driver cannot see.
There are three types of no zones: front, rear, and sides. You can reduce the likelihood of being in a crash with a truck if you avoid these areas. It is very important that you take the no zones into account when you are driving, as truck drivers cannot see your car when you are in those areas. That increases the risk of a crash.
Just as you cannot see past the hood of your car, a truck driver cannot see a large area in front of the truck. To guard against accidents, stay clear of this area. In fact, when you pass the truck, it is safest to wait until you can see both of the truck headlights in your rearview mirror before pulling in front of the truck.
A truck driver also cannot see a very large area behind the trailer. Even with extended mirrors on either side of the truck cab, it is impossible to see the area directly behind the trailer. This makes it especially important that you avoid this area. Experts suggest that you stay at least three seconds behind the rear of a tractor-trailer.
Some people think that truck drivers can see the area next to their vehicles using the mirrors mounted on either side of the cab. This is not true. In fact, the largest no zones are on either side of the trailer. A truck driver cannot see a very large area that starts at the front of the cab of the truck and extends out to the side and rear of the trailer. For this reason, do not linger in these areas.
You can read more about staying safe when driving near tractor-trailers and the no zones in the California Driver Handbook.
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