There are many stories of commercial truck drivers who are involved in lane change accidents. In the following examples, each of the drivers stated that they did not see the vehicle next to them.
A truck driver moved across the driving lane into the passing lane of an interstate highway without using his turn signal. The driver of the passenger car in that lane swerved away, but then lost control and collided with the truck. A second passenger car also collided with the truck and ended up on its side in the median with the truck leaning on top of it. An investigation determined that the truck driver did not intend to change lanes but drifted into the other lane and caused the chain reaction accident.
A truck driver was going down a mountain grade on an interstate highway in a construction zone. The third lane was closed and trucks were required to use the middle lane. The driver stated that another truck passed him on the right side, pulled in front of him and suddenly slowed. In an effort to avoid hitting the truck in front of him he pulled into the right lane but did not see that there was already a passenger car in that lane which resulted in a crash. The carrier determined the truck driver was at fault because he was inattentive to his surroundings and did not keep proper space management around his vehicle.
A truck driver pulled into the passing lane in order to go around a slower moving vehicle while traveling on an interstate highway. The truck hit a car that was passing the truck at the time it was changing lanes. A review of the dash camera video shows the driver checking his mirrors and putting on his turn signal before attempting to make the lane change, but he never saw the car. The video also confirms that the driver was talking on his cell phone at the time. It was determined that the cause of the accident was due to inadequate surveillance or inattention blindness, which can best be described as “looking but not seeing” due to being distracted by the conversation on his cell phone.
The following are tips provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to avoid accidents caused by inadequate surveillance. Inadequate surveillance occurs when the driver is in a situation where he/she is required to look to safely complete a maneuver and either fails to look in the appropriate place or “looks, but does not see.” The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) reported that 14% of large-truck crashes occurred due to inadequate surveillance by drivers.
Be vigilant in watching for vehicles in the “No Zone.” Drivers around you may not be aware of the size of your truck’s blind spots. You should be aware that some of your blind spots are large enough that a passenger vehicle can virtually disappear from your view. Approx. 30% of all crashes between large trucks and cars take place in the “No Zone.”
Defensive driving is a way of operating your vehicle to avoid accidents due to the actions of others. To drive defensively you should keep your distance, maintain a safe speed and stay alert. Recognizing potentially dangerous situations well in advance can allow you to safely maneuver past these situations. 75% of lane change/merge crashes involve a recognition failure by the driver.
Look at least 15 seconds in front of you – approximately a quarter of a mile on the interstate and one and half blocks in the city. Looking far enough ahead will allow you to respond early and smoothly to changing conditions ahead and to avoid dangerous and abrupt braking.
Often Check your mirrors regularly – at least every 5 to 8 seconds – before you change lanes, turn, or merge. Check your mirrors quickly and return your attention to the road ahead. Frequent scanning will allow you to be aware of changing traffic conditions around your truck and may help you identify if a vehicle has moved into a blind spot.
Mirror adjustment should be checked prior to the start of any trip and can only be checked accurately when the trailer(s) are straight. You should check and adjust each mirror to show some part of the vehicle.
Other drivers cannot know what you are going to do until you tell them. Signaling what you intend to do is important for safety, so signal well before you turn.
Remember, a truly professional driver is a safe driver. There is no technology available that can replace an alert and attentive driver.