The Dangers of Improper Lane Changes by Big Trucks

The Dangers of Improper Lane Changes by Big TrucksAny time a truck changes lanes, other drivers face an increased risk of an accident. There are reasons why changing lane accidents are so dangerous, such as the trucks’ blind spots and poor sight lines. If the trucker is fatigued, intoxicated, or distracted, the risk of an accident is even higher.

The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) reports improper lane change use is the leading cause of truck accidents, accounting for more than 13% of all Alabama truck accidents.

Why truck designs contribute to improper lane change accidents

Large trucks have numerous blind spots, and that is a real problem when a trucker needs to change lanes. Mirrors may not be as helpful as the truckers (or other drivers) assume, either. Newer truck technologies use cameras to help the driver see, but even these devices have their limits.

Truck drivers have difficulty seeing the following areas – all of which are critical to passing or changing lanes properly:

  • Behind the trailer. Trailers generally don’t have windows, so a rear-view mirror is of no help. Drivers who are too close to the truck can collide with the truck as the driver starts his/her lane-changing maneuver.
  • On the sides of the trailer. Seeing on the driver’s right side of the truck is usually more difficult than seeing on the left. The blind spot on the right side can extend out several lanes. In addition, trucks that turn right need more space. Drivers should avoid passing a truck on the right side. Truck drivers need to be extra cautious when moving from a left or center lane to a lane on their right. Seeing on the left side is difficult for truck drivers too.
  • In front of the truck cab. The driver’s cabin position and the hood of the truck-front can make it difficult for the driver to see any small vehicles directly in front of the truck.

Large trucks need more stopping distance because of the size and weight which means if the truck driver realizes there is a problem when he/she shifts lane, it can be harder to stop or slow down. Braking is especially hard for trucks when the road surface is wet or slick.

Passing or shifting lanes is especially dangerous at night when the truck driver can only see what the truck’s lights illuminate.

How do truck drivers contribute to improper lane change crashes?

All truck drivers need to use extra caution when passing because of the difficulties of maneuvering such big vehicles. Additional risks can include:

  • Driver fatigue
  • Driver distraction
  • Not signaling before a lane change
  • Speeding
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Failing to merge properly
  • Not judging the distance needed to pass properly on the truck driver’s side, in front, and in the rear

At Martin & Helms, our Huntsville truck accident lawyers hold truck drivers, trucking companies, and other responsible defendants liable for wrongful deaths and for any type of injury including broken bones, traumatic brain injury, amputations, burns, and spinal cord damage. We demand compensation for your medical bills, your pain and suffering, your lost income, any property damage, and punitive damages when justified. Our premier trial lawyers represent families and injury victims across North Alabama including Huntsville, Decatur, Athens, and Madison. Call us now at 256-539-1990 or use our contact form. to schedule a consultation. We handle accident cases on a contingency fee basis.

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