Where Are the 4 Blind Spots on an 18-Wheeler?
July 8, 2022 | Sagi Shaked | Truck Accidents
It is easy to underestimate exactly how large tractor-trailers are. Tractor-trailers are roughly 50 feet long and 8.5 feet wide. Also, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), tractor-trailers can weigh up to 30 times as much as a passenger vehicle.
In short, 18-wheelers are big, long, and dangerous. What adds to the danger is that the driver of an 18-wheeler can only see small sections of the area surrounding the vehicle, even if they turn their head. Tractor-trailers have large blind spots that other drivers should all be aware of to help avoid collisions.
Directly in Front of the Vehicle
While seated, drivers are unable to see anything directly in front of the cab. The nose of the cab juts out far enough that even when a driver angles their vision down, there is space in front of the vehicle that is invisible to the driver.
This is enough space to hide an entire car, which can potentially result in a truck accident if another driver pulls into that blind spot. Before a truck driver starts their engine, they should always be careful to check the area directly in front of the truck.
Directly Behind the Vehicle
No matter how it is angled, a mirror on the side of the vehicle’s cab can not reveal the area behind the trailer. And traditional rearview mirrors are equally useless because the trailer is opaque. Some modern trucks may have rear-facing cameras, but not all do.
As a result, truck drivers are unable to see multiple car lengths directly behind their trucks. This makes it especially dangerous to tailgate a truck because there is a good chance the driver has no clue you are there.
A very diligent driver can try to watch the edges of this blind spot and may be aware that something is inside of it, but that is still a dangerous situation.
On Either Side of the Vehicle
Side view mirrors provide some vision along the side of the truck but can’t provide a full panoramic view. Depending on how the mirrors are angled, there will always be some blind spots.
Some modern trucks allow the trucker to easily adjust the mirrors to see into those blind spots (at the cost of creating a different blind spot), but this process takes time. The driver can also physically look out their left window for a little extra visibility, but they can’t do the same on the right side.
The side blind spots are particularly relevant because, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 10% of 18-wheeler accidents are side-wipe accidents.
Truck drivers are trained to take special precautions to try to see into their blind spots before switching lanes or turning, but there is only so much they can do. Passenger vehicle drivers need to be aware of the danger, give truck drivers as much room as possible, and try to avoid being in their blind spots whenever possible.
How Can You Avoid the Blind Spots of a Truck?
When driving, you should try to stay out of the blind spots of a truck.
To avoid those blind spots, you should:
- Maintain a following distance where you can see the side mirrors of the truck
- Never cut off a tractor-trailer
- Try only to pass tractor-trailers on the left side
- Pass a tractor-trailer as quickly as possible
- Always signal before passing a tractor-trailer
These safe driving tips will protect you even if the truck driver isn’t being as safe as they should.