When a truck makes an improper lane change, bad accidents and injuries can happen. On the road, truck drivers can be a bit like the biggest school bully.
A bully, because of his size, can get away with virtually anything with his classmates, because there is usually no one around that’s bigger or tougher enough to keep him in check.
If you’re sharing the the road with a semi, that vehicle, given its immense size (an average of 80 feet including a tractor and trailer) compared to, for example, a 10-foot-long Mini Cooper, which was the king of the road when the slick little car made its debut in the movie “The Italian Job,” but would now be much less intimidating against a semi, that truck is, by nature of its sheer size, in charge of the interstate.
And if a truck driver fails to check all of his or her blind spots before changing lanes, the damage can be catastrophic. Truck accidents can result in severe brain and spinal injuries, fractures, or even wrongful death. If you were injured as the result of a truck making an improper lane change, and you reside in Illinois, contact our team so that we can get you the maximum amount you deserve. We’ll fight tooth and nail to get you a top-dollar settlement through pre-litigation. If the insurance company is stubborn or unreasonable, we will then file a lawsuit on your behalf and potentially take the case to trial.
Truck Driver Ticketed in Accident
In 2012, a Peoria truck driver shifting from the right to left lane failed to notice that there was a car traveling in the left lane, either because he didn’t satisfactorily check his blind spots or didn’t check at all, and struck the car as ge merged left, sending both the driver and the passenger to the hospital.
The driver of the truck, who initially left the scene, was ticketed for improper lane usage and driving without a valid license.
One of the biggest hazards of driving a tractor-trailer is failing to properly check blind spots on the road before changing lanes, a huge hazard given that trucks are not equipped with the ability to fully see everything surrounding them on the road.
Although the driver used his turn signal, the vehicle alongside him was too far ahead of his taillights to see that signal, and too far behind his side mirrors to be seen.
The truck driver later told police that he initially thought he had blown a tire when the accident occurred, which clearly illustrates the reason why size matters when it comes to vehicles sharing the road, because a passenger vehicle that was thrown off the road barely registered for the semi driver.
Avoiding Lane Change Accidents
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offers the following tips to prevent accidents caused by improper lane changes, which are caused by inadequate surveillance on the part of the truck driver.
- Be aware of the no-zone. If you can’t see their side mirrors, they can’t see you either. Approximately one-third of all improper lane change accidents occur when trucks make lane changes when cars are in that zone. Truck drivers can avoid accidents by keeping vigilant about who is on the road around them, but passenger vehicles can do their part by being aware of the dangerous “no-zone.”
- Drive defensively. That means maintaining a proper distance from other drivers, driving at a safe speed and staying alert behind the wheel. This rule applies to both truck drivers and passenger vehicles.
- Look ahead. When driving on the interstate, keep your eyes on the area at least 15 seconds in front of you (that become one-and-a-half blocks in the city) in order to be prepared for any changes in traffic conditions ahead, including sudden accidents or other incidents that require trucks or passenger vehicles to brake quickly. (According to the FMCSA, it takes almost a full second from the time your brain realizes that braking is necessary to the time your foot actually applies the break. That second is critical, and so is being prepared.)
- Check mirrors regularly. If you’re changing lanes, turning or merging into oncoming traffic, check your mirrors diligently to make sure that the surrounding traffic is complying with traffic laws and giving you the space you need to maneuver safely. If you’re behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer, watching your mirrors can also let you know if a vehicle has moved into a blind spot, so you’ll be less likely to make a wrong move.
- Approach intersections cautiously. Anything can happen at an intersection. A driver can fail to stop at a stop sign or red light and sail into traffic, forcing surrounding vehicles to brake, make unsafe maneuvers or cause a collision. A driver can also fail to see oncoming traffic due to glare, weather or other conditions. Being aware that anything can happen may give you enough time to prevent an accident. (According to estimates, 14.6 percent of accidents where a truck hits another vehicle occur at intersections.)
What Causes Truck Driver Lane Change Accidents?
Blind spots are a big problem for truck drivers making lane changes, which is why experienced passenger drivers can prevent accidents by flashing their headlights at a truck driver that is signaling a lane change that you are aware of his or her intentions and are prepared for the move.
There are other possible reasons for lane-change accidents from trucks.
- Drivers may be in a hurry to reach their next stop, and they drive aggressively and make risky moves while merging into traffic.
- Drivers in rush may also be careless, and fail to carefully check for other vehicles on the road.
- Drivers may misjudge the distance between them and other vehicles, trigger an unintentional accident.
- Drivers may unintentionally shift lanes because of distracted driving, such as using a cell phone to call or text.
- Drivers who have been on the road for a long time may be exhausted and either fall asleep or lose track of what they are doing, both of which can cause them to shift into another lane.
- Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol may shift lanes because they aren’t in proper control of their vehicle.