Americans love to drive SUVs and pickups because they are higher off the ground and provide a better view of the road. Because commercial trucks like 18-wheelers are even taller, you might think they’d have the best view of the road. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Large vehicles have large blind spots. You have to show extra care when driving around semi-trucks because when you drive in a trucker’s blind spot, you’re at greater risk of being injured in a collision. The risk increases if the truck driver attempts to slow down, speed up, turn, or change lanes.

Large trucks are more difficult to maneuver. They also take longer to slow down and come to a stop compared to passenger vehicles. By the time the truck driver realizes you are there, it may be too late for them to move out of the way.

By learning where the blind spots are on semi-trucks, you can stay visible and better protect yourself and your family while on the road.

Where Are the Blind Spots on a Tractor Trailer?

There are four major blind spots or “no zones” on a commercial truck: directly behind the trailer, directly in front of the truck, and to either side of the vehicle extending out at a backward angle from the side mirrors.graphic of large truck blind spots

Behind the Truck

The blind spot behind the truck is about 30 feet long, or about two car lengths. A good way of judging this is by looking at the truck’s side view mirrors. If you can’t see the driver in their side mirror, then they can’t see you.

This is one of the largest blind spots on a semi-truck, and an important reason why you should never tailgate a tractor-trailer.

blind spot behind a large truck

In Front of the Truck

The blind spot in front of a tractor-trailer is about 20 feet, or slightly less than one and a half car lengths. In addition to their increased stopping distance, this is an important reason why you should never cut off a large truck in traffic. If passing a truck, never pull in front of the truck until you can see the entire truck in your rearview mirror.

If a truck is not keeping multiple vehicle lengths between its front bumper and your back bumper, there is a good possibility it may not see you. In this scenario, you should attempt to change lanes, if it’s safe to do so.

blind spot in front of a large truck

To the Left and Right of the Truck

A commercial truck’s side mirrors are designed primarily to view what’s behind them, rather than what’s beside them. This can be a problem when you’re driving next to a large truck because most passenger vehicles will be under the height of the mirrors.

On the left side of the cab, the blind spot extends from slightly behind the left-hand mirror to about half the length of the trailer. It covers the entire lane immediately to the left of the truck.

On the right-hand side, the blind spot covers the full length of the cab and about half the length of the trailer in the lane to the immediate right of the truck. It also extends from the front of the cab to about a car length behind the trailer in the lane two lanes over on the right.

Because the blind spot is smaller on the left-hand side, you should only drive on the left-hand side of a tractor-trailer when possible. If you need to pass on the right, do so quickly to minimize the time spent in the blind spot.

Additional Safety Tips for Sharing the Road with Trucks

Sharing the road safely with large trucks requires extra caution and constant awareness. Here are some tips to help you stay safe:

  • Maintain a safe following distance: Due to their size and weight, large trucks take longer to stop than passenger vehicles. Always maintain a safe following distance of at least four seconds, increasing it to even greater distances on slick roads or in poor visibility conditions.
  • Avoid blind spots: Like we detailed above, large trucks have extensive blind spots in front, on the sides, and directly behind them. Memorize these blind spots and avoid lingering in them whenever possible. If you can’t see the truck driver’s mirrors, they can’t see you.when to safely pass a large truck graphic
  • Pass safely: Never attempt to pass a truck unless you have ample clear space in the oncoming lane and a safe distance ahead of the truck. Always signal well in advance when passing a truck, and complete the maneuver swiftly and decisively.
  • Be predictable: Maintain a steady speed and avoid erratic behavior like lane changes or sudden braking near large trucks. Signal your intention well in advance and make safe and predictable maneuvers.
  • Use caution around merging trucks: Be particularly aware of blind spots when a truck is merging  or making a turn. Yield the right of way, and allow the truck plenty of space to maneuver safely.
  • Give trucks extra space: When stopped at a red light or intersection, leave plenty of space between your car and the truck in front of you to allow it to stop or complete a turn.

Large Truck Blind Spot on the side graphic

What to Do After a Crash with a Large Truck

If you’re involved in an accident with a large truck, here are the initial steps you should take:

  • Ensure physical safety: The priority is to check yourself and any passengers in your vehicle for injuries. If necessary, call 911 immediately.
  • Move your vehicle to a safe place: If possible, move your car to a safe location off the roadway to avoid further collisions.
  • Call the police: Report the accident to the police and request a copy of the police report.
  • Seek medical attention: Even if you don’t feel immediate pain, it’s important to get checked by a doctor after a truck accident. Injuries can sometimes take time to manifest. Having your injuries documented will be helpful later if you decide to file an injury claim.
  • Gather contact information: Exchange contact information with the truck driver, making sure to also get their employer information, as well as with any witnesses to the accident.
  • Document the scene: If you’re able, take pictures or videos of the accident scene, the damage to your vehicle, and the truck involved.
  • Don’t discuss fault: Avoid admitting fault and don’t discuss the details of the accident with ANYONE except the police and your lawyer.
  • Contact your insurance company: Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible.

Have You Been Injured in a Truck Accident?

Even drivers who do everything they can to avoid a truck’s blind spots can still be involved in a dangerous collision. Truck accident injuries often require extensive medical treatment. If a truck driver’s negligence caused an accident, they must be held accountable for their actions. Victims can seek compensation for their medical treatment, future medical procedures, lost wages, and their pain and suffering.

Not just any car accident lawyer knows how to deal with these complex cases. Truck accident lawsuits often involve multiple liable parties and insurance companies. Our firm has extensive experience with cases involving commercial drivers and complicated insurance policies. These case studies represent just a handful of the truck accident cases we’ve handled:

Attorney Brent Arant secured a $1,000,000 settlement for a driver who suffered a neck injury Brent Arant Circleafter a logging truck crashed into his car in Dorchester County.

A $17 million trial verdict to the surviving family members of Attorney Mark Joye for their loved ones killed in 18-wheeler accident on I-95

Robert Howell Circle Headshot

A client of Attorney Robert Howell received a $1,000,000 settlement after a semi-truck driver slammed into the rear of his vehicle on I-26 near Jedburg Road.

Milt Stratos Circle HeadshotSydney Lynn Circle Headshot

A jury in York County awarded $500,000 to a client of Attorneys Sydney Lynn and Milt Stratos after they were T-boned by a tractor-trailer on Highway 321 in Clover.

Contact the experienced truck accident attorneys at Joye Law Firm today to learn why South Carolina trusts us with their truck accident claims.

During your free consultation, we will listen to your account of what happened, determine your eligibility for filing a legal claim, and explain our next steps. Every person who contacts Joye Law Firm receives our No Fee Guarantee, which means we will cover all expenses regarding your case and you won’t owe us anything unless we win. We believe in being up-front about all attorney fees and promise to maintain open lines of communication throughout your case.

We have successfully represented victims of truck accidents across the state of South Carolina since opening our doors in 1968. Let us put our experience to work for you.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with over 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves as the President of the Charleston County Bar Association and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent case, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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