What Are a Semi-Truck’s Blind Spots?

Published on February 6, 2024, by Forbes Law | Truck Accidents

What Are a Semi Truck's Blind Spots?

In North America, tractor-trailers, which are also known as semi-trailers because the trailers themselves have no front wheels, are between 70 and 80 feet long with a “standard” cab. With a “cab-over” cab, the entire rig is between 4 and 8 feet shorter than a “standard” cab. In any event, no matter the type of cab, a tractor-trailer has enormous blind spots created by the sheer length, breadth, and height of the trailer.

A tractor-trailer has four chief blind spots, and they are:

  • Directly behind the trailer out to 30 feet.
  • Directly in front of the cab out to 20 feet.
  • The area from directly below the driver’s side mirror to roughly halfway down the driver’s side of the truck.
  • The area from directly below the passenger’s side mirror down roughly 90% of the length of the trailer.

The gigantic bind spot on the passenger’s side of tractor-trailers is the main reason that all safety information says not to pass trucks on the right, particularly in city traffic and whenever the truck is turning right. There is a simple trick to staying out of a tractor-trailer’s blind spots: If you can’t see the driver’s mirrors, then the driver cannot see you.

Remember, too, that trucks can weigh up to 36.3 long tons, or 80,000 pounds. That means that accidents with them are often much more devastating than accidents that just involve cars. The law of inertia states that something weighing that much has a much harder time stopping than a car, which normally weighs no more than 4,000-6,000 pounds.

The Law Regarding Tractor-Trailer Accidents in West Virginia

First, West Virginia has a modified version of “comparative fault” when it comes to accidents of any type. Comparative fault is when each party involved in an accident is assigned a percentage of fault regarding causing the accident. These percentages don’t necessarily have to add up to 100%. For example, one driver might be 20% at fault, and the other driver could be 40% at fault, and the remaining 40% could be down to random chance and/or an act of God. The same holds true if there are more than two drivers involved in an accident. In most states, parties can collect a percentage of damages no matter how much of an accident is deemed to be their fault. However, in West Virginia, anyone who is deemed to be at least 51% or more at fault cannot collect damages.

Therefore, if you’ve had an accident with a tractor-trailer, and you’re not 51% or more at fault, then you can think of filing suit against both the driver of the tractor-trailer and/or the applicable company for negligence and/or malfeasance. There are several ways that tractor-trailer drivers can be negligent, including:

  • Speeding, which is more dangerous for trucks than other vehicles because of the aforementioned law of inertia
  • Distracted driving, in which some drivers indulge on long, boring trips
  • Driving while fatigued, which occurs when drivers continue long after they should to meet tight, often unreasonable, delivery deadlines
  • Tailgating
  • Improperly packed and/or secured loads, which might fly out the back of the truck and crash into your vehicle
  • Human error, such as forgetting to check blind spots before turning, merging, or exiting

Fortunately, if you follow the rule of, “Always see a truck’s mirrors,” then you will avoid most possible accidents. Still, things happen all the time on the road, and there are instances when you can’t avoid an accident. In cases like those, when the truck driver is mostly at fault or if negligence was otherwise a cause, it would be a good idea to contact Forbes Law Offices. Our Charleston truck accident lawyers have years of experience with complex cases like tractor-trailer wrecks. To find out your options if you or a loved one is injured in any way in a truck accident in West Virginia, give us a call or get in touch today.