Large trucks need more room when making turns, hence a truck driver’s improper turning and negligence can lead to severe injuries for other motorists. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2021, truck-related accidents caused the death of 5,788 people. From these accidents, one of the crash factors that the agency highlighted was large trucks turning left or right.
Were you or a family member hurt in a turn collision involving a truck? In the KCMO area, Flick Law Firm can help you claim compensation. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.
Why Trucks Make Wide Turns
Semi trucks are typically about 70 feet long. A vehicle of such size takes up more road space when attempting a turn, often intruding on adjacent lanes.
In addition, these large vehicles are composed of two distinct parts: the tractor, which is responsible for driving the truck, and the trailer that carries the cargo and is towed by the tractor. During turns, the trailer can “off-track” – a situation where the trailer does not follow the same turn path as the tractor.
On top of these, large trucks can weigh 80,000 pounds or more, decreasing their ability to make sharp turns and increasing the risk of rollovers when attempting tight turns.
Trucks Making a Wide Turn – The Risks Involved
Negotiating left or right turns with a lengthy vehicle poses challenges that ‘regular’ sized cars don’t have. Limited visibility in blind spots makes it difficult for a trucker to see surrounding vehicles. The extended truck length requires wider turns, encroaching on neighboring traffic lanes. Inaccurate tracking or off-tracking also adds difficulty to the truck driver’s judgment.
Besides these, a truck also needs longer time to turn, increasing the exposure to potential hazards. To minimize accident risks, truck drivers must recognize these challenges during turns and adhere to correct turning procedures. Truckers go through specialized training to master proper turning techniques. Wide turns are sometimes necessary, but truck drivers can prevent many accidents by executing them properly.
Truck Accidents Involving Wide Turns
Truck drivers occasionally use a portion of a nearby traffic lane when they need to make a wide turn. Since trucks have large blind spots, the likelihood of accidents during wide turns significantly increases if the driver fails to exercise reasonable caution. The following are common accidents that unfortunately results from incorrect truck turns:
Truck Right Turn Squeeze Accident (“Squeeze Play”)
This may be the most prevalent type of wide-turn crash involving a large truck and a car. Here’s how it happens: When a truck is about to turn right, it first has to swing a bit to the left, because its rear wheels will cut a shorter turn path and thus get closer to the right-hand curb. A car driver following the truck may mistakenly assume the truck is simply veering left. If the car tries to squeeze past on the truck’s right, the car will likely get wedged between the truck trailer and the curb.
This kind of scenario can also lead to an underride accident, where the smaller car gets crushed underneath the large truck.
Certain factors may prevent a car driver from recognizing that the truck is about to make a turn. These factors include:
- Absence of turn signals
- Letting the trailer to drift too far away from the curb.
When a truck veers to the left prematurely, surrounding drivers may mistakenly believe that the truck is changing lanes, even if the blinker is activated. Instead, a trucker should ensure the trailer remains close to the curb and delay swinging to the left until after crossing the intersection and commencing the second part of the turn towards the intended lane of travel.
Truck Wide Left Turn Accident
Left turn squeeze accidents are not as frequent as other types of accidents due to the wider nature of left turns. However, statistics from the NHTSA indicate that left turns cause 53.1 percent of traffic-crossing accidents while right turns account for merely 5.7 percent.
The foremost risk involved in executing a left turn is the need for the truck to travel across an intersection, often alongside other vehicles making turns. If a truck driver turns the wheel prematurely, the trailer may veer from its intended path and collide with another turning vehicle.
Responsibility of Truck Drivers in Making Turns
To prevent right-turn crashes, truckers must observe these rules prescribed by the Missouri Commercial Driver License Manual:
- Approach right turns at a slow speed, allowing more time to react and avoid any potential problems.
- If the truck is unable to turn without encroaching into another lane, the driver should initiate a wider turn while ensuring that the rear of the truck remains close to the curb. This helps prevent other drivers from attempting to pass on the right.
- Truckers must not turn wide to the left as they begin the turn. This can give other drivers the impression that the truck is turning left. If trailing drivers attempt to pass on the right, it can result in a collision.
To minimize the risk of a left-turn accident, these are rules for truck drivers:
- Truckers must ensure they reach the midpoint of the intersection before initiating the turn. Turning too early might cause the truck’s left side to collide with another vehicle due to off-tracking.
Truck drivers hold crucial roles in preventing wide-turn accidents by adhering to the following measures:
- Perform a comprehensive pre-trip inspection to ensure clean, properly adjusted, and intact mirrors.
- Continuously monitor the mirrors throughout the turn, remaining vigilant regarding any vehicles that may enter blind spots prior to and during the turning process.
- Execute turns at a gradual pace while consistently checking mirrors.
- Avoid making turns that appear excessively tight. Instead, opt for the next available turn and explore alternative routes to reach the destination.
If you were injured or lost a loved one because of a truck driver’s negligence, reach out to an attorney experienced and skilled with large truck crash cases for legal help.
Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer in Missouri or Kansas
Flick Law Firm focuses its practice on seeking the maximum compensation for truck accident injury victims. If you or someone you love is seriously injured or disabled in a truck accident caused by another person’s negligence, we can help.
To protect your rights and demand justice from the responsible parties, call Flick Law Firm at (816) 221-0501. You can get a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney.