Commercial trucks are some of the biggest and most intimidating vehicles on roads and highways. Trucks traveling at high speeds or maneuvering on small streets can present danger for other road users. One scenario that is riskier than it may seem is when a large commercial truck attempts to turn at a tight intersection. This can cause a number of possible truck accidents and endanger nearby motorists and individuals, if the driver does not execute the turn skillfully or there are mechanical difficulties that increase the risks.
Poorly executed turns or other dangerous factors can cause the occupants of a nearby vehicle to be put in harm’s way. A huge truck can swing out into another lane while positioning for or completing a turn, squeeze a car against an object or curb as it turns right, or run head-on into opposing traffic mid-turn. Maneuvering too fast or taking a too-tight turn can cause a truck to tip over or result in the driver otherwise losing control of their truck.
With any accident involving a truck, there is a risk of severe personal injury. Motorists or passengers injured are urged to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer for assistance.
Wide Turns and Special Considerations Necessary for Big Trucks
A wide turn is necessary when a truck driver must position the truck in such a way that the upcoming turn is possible. They must factor in the angle of the turn; the space provided; and the surrounding area including traffic, objects, and other impediments. For a typical right-hand turn performed by any driver, the driver may swing out to the left to allow for them to approach the turn while giving themselves a wide enough berth to make the turn without getting stuck or needing to back up to reset the angle of the turn. This is dangerous for big tractor trailers. Commercial truck drivers are taught how to safely make these turns, as going at it the wrong way can be extremely dangerous.
Commercial trucks must use very precise techniques to safely make wide turns. Training and practice are key to ensuring that commercial truck drivers can perform this skill without putting others in danger.
What are the Rules Commercial Truck Drivers Must Follow to Safely Make Wide Turns?
The commercial driver’s license (CDL) manual used to prepare commercial drivers for certification gives clear steps to ensure that truck drivers employ safe driving techniques when they execute turns. These instructions, as they relate to right turns, are as follows:
- Proceed slowly.
- Keep the rear of the vehicle close to the curb.
- Turn wide while completing the turn.
- Do not turn wide to the left while beginning the turn.
- When crossing into an oncoming lane is unavoidable, do not proceed if any vehicles are approaching.
- Allow these vehicles to get through the intersection unimpeded.
- Do not back up.
Left turns may seem more straightforward, but there are specific safety concerns with these turns as well. The CDL manual provides the following directions for a truck driver making a left turn:
- Reach the center of the intersection before starting the left turn.
- When there are two turning lanes, use the right-hand lane.
What Types of Accidents are Associated with Trucks Making Wide Turns?
Head-on crash risk: A turning truck could cause a head-on crash while improperly being positioned too early in the turning process, which may put the driver at risk of going into oncoming traffic during the set-up before the turn or continuing with a turn despite oppositional traffic approaching on the road they are entering.
Blind-spot accident hazards: Truck drivers must remain aware of the cars in the area throughout the entire process of completing a turn. One mistake can compound on others if the truck driver swings out to the left on a right turn, thereby allowing a car to approach on the right. The driver of the approaching vehicle may not realize the trucker’s intention to turn right. This can result in the smaller vehicle being struck by the side of the trailer once the trucker initiates the turn. An extremely dangerous scenario might involve the approaching car actually becoming stuck under the trailer of the truck.
Tip-over accident danger: Trucks are big and heavy, and they have a high center of gravity; combined, these factors put them at risk for tipping over. When turning, truck drivers should remain mindful of the shifting weight of their trailer, especially on uneven roads or especially tight turns. Overcompensating on a turn or going into a turn with the wrong angle can cause a tip-over accident.
Factors that May Contribute to a Wide-Turn Truck Accident
Trucker drivers may be liable for causing an accident if they are not careful and skillful while turning. Some of the costly mistakes they make include the following:
- Failing to reduce speed enough
- Forgetting to signal their intention to turn
- Turning too widely
- Positioning the rear of the truck too far from the curb
- Failing to check blind spots
- Approaching the turn by swinging out into oncoming traffic
- Failing to properly account for space available for the turn
- Backing up
Other factors that may involve negligent parties other than the truck driver include these issues:
- Faulty turn signals
- Lack of effective or well-positioned mirrors
- Poor driver training
- Lack of driver certification
Other factors that may contribute to a wide-turn accident might also include weather conditions that cause poor visibility and road conditions that create physical risks or driver confusion. Sometimes poorly maintained or defective auto parts may create a danger, such as when a blown bulb or faulty wiring causes a turn signal to malfunction or cause a nearby driver to misinterpret the trucker’s intention to turn.
What can be Done to Prevent Wide-Turn Truck Accidents?
First and foremost, any driver operating a truck, bus, or other similar long vehicle that requires the use of wide turns should be fully trained in how to make these complicated turns correctly. Commercial truckers in particular should be trained, certified, and periodically tested to ensure that their skills are up to the task of making these tricky turns.
Negligent Parties that May be Found Liable in a Wide-Turn Truck Accident
People who are hurt in an accident involving a truck making a wide turn should be able to make a claim of damages against any negligent party in the accident. Possible negligent parties might include a reckless truck driver, a trucking company that neglected to ensure that their drivers were fully trained, or the manufacturer of a defective auto part.
Comparative Negligence States Such as New York and New Jersey and Possible Damages from the Accident
Comparative negligence laws complicate the equation of how much an injured person can collect in monetary damages after an accident. These laws establish a mechanism in which a person who bears some measure of responsibility for causing their own accident will have their damages reduced in proportion to their own liability. In other words, a person who suffered $10,000 in damages but was found to be 20 percent responsible for their accident would receive only $8,000 to pay for the losses they suffered in the accident.
Sometimes insurance companies and shrewd trucking company lawyers might seek ways to blame accident victims and use these laws to reduce the amount they have to pay those who become injured in accidents with their employees.
Monmouth County Truck Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Help People Seriously Injured in Wide-Turn Truck Accidents
If you were injured or lost a loved one in an accident with a truck making a wide turn, you may be able to collect compensation for the losses you suffered as a result of the accident. The Monmouth County truck accident lawyers at Ellis Law can help you receive damages for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, or other possible recoveries you may be due. Call us at 732-308-0200 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.