Blind Spots and Maintaining a Proper Lookout By Truck Drivers
October 21st, 2014
Every driver has a duty to maintain a proper lookout. This means that driver must exercise ordinary care and prudence to observe the obstructions and traffic on the road that may pose a hazard to them in such time that they can take reasonable steps to avoid a collision. But when it comes to 18 wheelers and other large commercial vehicles, there are certain spots known as “blind spots” that the driver cannot see.
The “No Zones” or Blind Spots for 18 Wheelers
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has identified several areas they call “no zones” which are the typical known blind spots of 18 wheelers. Below is TxDOT’s diagram identifying those “no zones” or blind spots.
The four blind spots of 18 wheelers are:
- directly behind the trailer,
- directly in front of the nose of the truck,
- to the left rear of the truck cab, and;
- to the right side and rear of the truck cab.
Truck drivers and trucking companies have an obligation to the public to be aware of these blind spots. After all, they are driving the trucks on public roadways for a living. Failure to recognize and check any of these four blind spots can result in an accident that could have been prevented.
Mirror Requirements for Commercial Motor Vehicles
Federal law via the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) sets the mirror requirements for interstate trucks–which in turn, sets the industry standard for all commercial motor vehicles. Under FMCSR 25.15:
Every bus, truck, and truck-tractor shall be equipped with two rear-vision mirrors, one at each side, firmly attached to the outside of the motor vehicle, and so located as to reflect to the driver a view of 200 feet to the rear, along both sides of the vehicle.
Only one outside mirror shall be required, which shall be on the driver’s side, on trucks which are so constructed that the driver has a view to the rear by means of an interior mirror.
Optional Blind Spot Solutions
In addition to the required mirrors, there are a number of other options on the market that trucking companies and truck drivers have at their disposal to reduce and even eliminate blind spots. Some of these include:
- Convex mirrors are small circular mirrors that attach to the normal side mirror. Convex mirrors are designed with an outward curve, like those used for security mirrors, because it creates a wider field of view. There are also wide angle mirrors available to help with hard to see parts along the side of a trailer and to the rear. Convex mirrors are an easy, inexpensive solution to much of the problem created by blind sports.
- Object sensors and back-up cameras are technological solutions that can help with spotting vehicles to the rear.
Lastly, a responsible truck driver needs to lean or stand up and look to his right before changing lanes to the right. This enables him to see any small vehicle right up against the right wheel area.
Each of the above things help reduce and/or eliminate the risks imposed by blind spots. When a truck driver fails to take these steps to prevent the issues caused by blind spots, he is not acting as an ordinary prudent person would. He is letting a known hazard continue to exist when there are cheap and effective ways to reduce and/or eliminate those risks. If an accident results due to the driver and/or company’s negligence, they may be held liable for the resulting damages.
Call Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., for a free case evaluation if you have been injured due to the failure of a truck driver to check his blind spots before changing lanes and/or turning into your vehicle. 800-298-0111.
Paul Cannon has practiced personal injury trial law since 1995. He is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law (2005). He has earned recognition as a Super Lawyer by Thompson Reuters in 2017 & 2018, and as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association in 2017. He is a Shareholder, trial lawyer and online marketing manager at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. His legal writings have been published by the Texas Bar Journal, Business.com, Lawyer.com HG Legal Resources, Lawfirms.com, and others. He has been asked to give education talks and media interviews on dog bite law.