Truck Backup Accidents – Trucker Responsibilities and Negligence

Backing up a tractor-trailer can be dangerous for many reasons, but specifically because of the driver’s limited visibility. Maintaining the proper line of sight and avoiding obstacles while reversing in a large truck is much more difficult than in a standard passenger vehicle. This is especially true when attempting to maneuver in tight, confined spaces, such as at loading docks, around city streets, or in work zones.

If the trucker who is preparing for a backup maneuver only checks one mirror, he or she is acting negligently and may cause a truck accident. This is because the area immediately behind a semi-truck has almost no visibility, and side blind spots are larger than you might think. Even the front of a big rig has limited visibility.

Many trucking companies require their truck drivers to follow a specific protocol when backing up their vehicles. It is called G.O.A.L.: Get Out And Look. A truck driver who fails to obtain a complete visual of his or her surroundings prior to a backup maneuver is putting other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians at serious risk of injury or death.

Additional factors that affect backing safety include:

  • Time of the day: Backup maneuvers at night can be dangerous. People are simply harder to see at night, particularly if they are wearing dark clothes.
  • Location: A truck driver backing up in a crowded industrial/construction location may have difficulty making visual contact with certain obstacles.
  • Visual “noise”: Bright lights, sun glare, rain, fog, and multiple moving objects (or bodies) can be incredibly distracting. This visual noise makes it harder to move a truck in any direction, but makes backing up even more difficult.

These factors, plus the sheer size of the truck, make backing safety protocols very important. Backing safety procedures should be followed in every instance. If you are hit by a truck driver who is backing up, the driver and his/her employer may share liability for your injuries, even if you were in a truck’s blind spot. It is the truck driver’s responsibility to be aware of his or her blind spot.

Truckers must us extra caution when backing up

It is essential to take proper precautions when operating a large truck or big rig reverse. Here are some important measures a truck driver should implement before backing up a commercial rig:

  • Manual inspection of the area: Prior to backing up, the driver should leave the vehicle and inspect the area where the truck will back into.
  • Check the audible reverse alarm: Virtually all commercial trucks sound off an audible alarm when the vehicle operates in reverse. The driver should make sure this alarm is working.
  • Use human assistance: Particularly in busy locations, the driver should ask for help. This person (the spotter) should stand in the area where the truck will back up to ensure no one enters the area during the backup maneuver.

When proper precautions are taken, everyone is safer.

If you were injured by a tractor-trailer driver, the Huntsville truck accident attorneys at Martin & Helms can help you pursue the compensation you are owed for your losses. Give us a call today at 256.539.1990 or complete our contact form to request a free, no-obligation consultation.

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