Avoiding Commercial Truck Accidents by Recognizing Truck Blind Spots

Unlike many Maryland traffic accidents involving two smaller vehicles, such as a family sedan, SUV, or minivan, roadway collisions that involve a passenger car and a commercial motor vehicle -- especially a large and rather heavy one -- can be so much more dangerous. Trucking-related beltway wrecks are simply not in the same category as those between two relatively lightweight passenger vehicles. As personal injury lawyers, we know how much more deadly a commercial truck crash can be.

This is because large delivery vehicles, 18-wheel semis, and heavily-loaded tanker trucks greatly out-weigh any passenger car or light truck on the road. Because of their size and sheer mass, commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) must meet strict federal and state safety and operational requirements. Truckers themselves must also meet specific standards in order to maintain their commercial driver’s license (CDL). As Baltimore personal injury attorneys, the legal experts at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, understand Maryland's commercial vehicle laws, as well as those rules and regulations maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

A violation of any number of this state’s or the federal government’s rules and regulations may be grounds to hold a driver or freight transport company liable in the case of a bad commercial trucking wreck. This is why we recommend that anyone who has been seriously hurt in a highway accident with a big rig truck or other CMV should consider retaining a qualified automobile and trucking injury accident lawyer. Over the years, our office has assisted numerous victims of automobile and truck-related collisions. Despite the often severe results, these incidents can take place seemingly for the most insignificant of reasons.

Naturally, avoiding a crash altogether is certainly preferable to being injured and then having to fight for monetary compensation to pay for the resulting medical bills. One frequent cause of commercial truck collisions with passenger cars is when a driver finds himself in the so-called “blind spot” of a large commercial vehicle. For a couple decades now, the FMCSA has attempted to make this potentially deadly cause of traffic accidents more obvious to the motoring public, though thousands of people are still injured every year because a trucker could not see the car next to or behind his rig.

Of course, all vehicles have blind spots, but the ones associated with CMVs are much larger and can mask the existence of even the largest sport utility vehicle. Primarily, the blind spots around an 18-wheel tractor-trailer rig include the area immediately ahead of the cab; the space below and behind the window on the driver’s side; the expansive area along the right-hand side of the truck, from the cab all the way back to the end of the trailer; and the area directly behind the rear-end of the trailer.

For truck drivers, these blind spots can make it nearly impossible to see anything in these areas, much less a small vehicle or a pedestrian. Truckers are expected to do their best to check their blind spots before turning and changing lanes, yet collisions due to cars or other vehicle not being seen happen quite frequently.

To avoid becoming a statistic, it is wise to use caution whenever passing a truck or following close behind. Many drivers understand the hazards involved, but most people likely forget that being out of sight is not a benefit when being nearby a commercial motor vehicle. Passing on the left-hand side is preferable to passing on the right. Keeping far enough back behind an 18-wheel big rig will also allow the trucker to see your vehicle -- it will also add to the braking cushion that might be needed if the truck driver has to make an emergency stop for some reason.

For passenger car drivers, it is best to remain fully alert when approaching a large truck from behind. Keep in mind that about 30 percent of all car-truck accidents occur because of a blind-spot issue. And always watch for the truck’s turn indicators, which will help you in making a decision whether or not to pass the vehicle in the first place. Never cut closely in front of a tractor-trailer rig, commercial bus or motor coach; these vehicles typically require a greater stopping distance than the average passenger car, and a collision between the two can turn out very bad for the occupants in the smaller vehicle regardless of who was “in the right.”

Of course, if you have been involved in a severe trucking-related traffic accident, the legal professionals at Lebowitz & Mzhen are ready to offer their services. Our staff will be able to assess your case and explain what kind of legal options may be available following an automobile, trucking or motorcycle accident. As personal injury attorneys, we understand the law, and our courtroom experience allows us to pursue many injury and wrongful death claims in front of a jury, or through an out-of-court settlement.

We certainly understand how frustrated many people get with the legal process when they have suffered a serious injury and continue to experience, many times, ongoing pain and discomfort as a result of their injuries. Being placed in a situation where one’s health has been compromised along with facing potential financial problems due to extensive doctor and hospital bills is never a good combination. If your injuries have been caused by a negligent truck driver or commercial trucking company, the professionals at the law offices of Lebowitz & Mzhen are here to help. Contact toll-free to arrange a free no-obligation consultation; our phone number is (800) 654-1949; or you can email either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to set up time to review your case.