A blind spot is not just a spot; it is an entire region of road behind the vehicle to the left and to the right that the driver cannot see by only using the side and rearview mirrors. While checking mirrors before making a lane change is important, it is not enough; drivers should look behind them as well. In fact, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles in its Driver’s Manual and Study Guide instructs drivers to “always glance over your shoulder before changing lanes or passing” and to “never rely on your mirrors alone when preparing to change lanes.”
Blind spots create a danger of collisions between automobiles, but the danger is even greater for riders of bicycles and motorcycles. Because of their smaller sizes, these vehicles can be undetectable within a car’s blind spot. Bicyclists and motorcyclists are encouraged to ride visibly and predictably, but no amount of care and diligence will protect them from a driver who does not check the blind spots before changing lanes.
Cars and Trucks
Just as every car has two blind spots to the rear on the left and the right, tractor-trailers have these blind spots as well. These blind spots are larger for commercial truck drivers. A trucker’s right-side (passenger side) blind spot extends behind the trailer and even more than one lane over to the right. In addition, semi-trucks also have blind spots that extend for several car lengths in front of the cab as well as directly behind the trailer. Consider the magnitude of that blind spot. It means that an entire car can be completely swallowed up in a truck driver’s blind spot.
The average automobile driver who has no commercial trucking experience is very likely unaware of the extent of the truck’s blind spots. It is the responsibility of the truck driver in most situations to be aware of this fact and to act with particular care before changing lanes. In fact, truck drivers are instructed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation to be vigilant in watching for vehicles in their “No-Zone.” Failing to look properly before completing a maneuver is referred to as “inadequate surveillance” by FMCSA.
Negligence is Negligence
Motorcycle riders are often knowledgeable about car’s blind spots and do their best not to linger in those regions. Big rigs for their part often warn car drivers with signage regarding the trucker’s limited visibility, and FMCSA even launched a public campaign warning the public not to hang out in the “no-zone.” But it is not always possible to avoid being in these spots, whether temporarily while passing a vehicle or because of the pattern of traffic in front and behind you. In the end, changing lanes without turning and checking appropriate the blind spot is nearly always going to be a negligent maneuver, and the driver may be liable for any injuries or damage caused. If you have been injured in a New York City traffic accident, contact Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C. for a free consultation.