As drivers, we make right turns every day. We do it with ease, and don’t give it a second thought. But for large trucks, right turns are a different story. These trucks must make wide right turns. This requires the truck driver to turn beyond the intended turn lane and often encompass adjacent lanes and even overtake lanes of oncoming traffic.
Making these turns is difficult and requires a great deal of skill. When a driver is inexperienced or makes a mistake, accidents can happen. In 2017, over 4,100 people died in large truck accidents. Of these, 68 percent were occupants of passenger vehicles. Another 14 percent were either pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists. If you have been injured in an accident, an experienced truck accident attorney can help.
A Closer Look: How Do Wide Right Turn Accidents Happen?
If not properly executed, wide right turns can be extremely dangerous. A large truck has a turning radius of approximately 55 feet. This means that to successfully make a turn they must encroach on nearby lanes of traffic. This makes other vehicles and pedestrians vulnerable. But how do these types of accidents happen?
- The driver swings too far left: Truck drivers know that they have to swing left to make a right turn. But only an experienced driver knows just how far left. When a driver takes a turn too wide they can collide with nearby vehicles. This happens when they turn into traffic driving the opposite direction or they turn into the path of a driver approaching on the left.
- The driver doesn’t swing wide enough: Two things can happen when a driver tries to negotiate too tight of a right turn. Number one, they run over the curb or sidewalk or intrude on a bike lane. When this happens they can injure pedestrians that were in their path. The second scenario is just as serious. If a driver turns too tight, they run the risk of tipping the truck. At 80,000 pounds, a falling semi-truck will crush nearby vehicles.
- The truck driver fails to notify other drivers of their intent to turn: Semi-trucks have warnings on the back of their trailers to inform drivers that they make wide turns. This warning advises passenger vehicles to stay back and allow ample room. If a passenger vehicle attempts to pass a truck on the right while they are making a right turn they can become pinned between the cab and the trailer. If a truck driver does not use their turn signals before making a turn, other vehicles will not know to stay out of their path.
Why Do These Accidents Happen?
Accidents happen for a variety of reasons. When it comes to wide right turns, the truck driver almost always holds some level of responsibility. But different factors can make these accidents more likely to happen. This includes:
- Inexperience: Truck drivers must undergo extensive training to qualify to drive a large truck. But with anything, with experience comes skill. New drivers may not have the skill necessary to navigate wide turns. Also different trucks that they are not familiar with could purpose a problem. Along the same lines, a driver who is inexperienced with the area may have problems navigating a difficult turn.
- Inattention: Driving a large truck carries a great amount of responsibility. When a driver makes a right turn, they must give the task their full attention. This means checking for oncoming traffic, watching for vehicles who may attempt to pass, and clearing their blindspots. Common reasons for driver inattention include driver fatigue and complacency.
- Driving under the influence: Driving under the influence is dangerous. When it comes to driving a large truck. it can be deadly. Alcohol impairs a driver’s ability to think, process, and make good decisions. In 2017, 252 truck drivers involved in fatal accidents tested positive for at least one drug.
Who’s at Fault?
It’s a given that large trucks require extra room to turn. As such, the insurance companies will likely try to argue that you held some if not all of the fault in the accident. There are many factors that adjusters will look at when determining fault. An experienced personal injury attorney can make sure that items proving the truck driver’s liability don’t get overlooked. In cases involving large trucks, there may be more parties involved beyond you and the trucker driver. Parties you may hold liability include:
- The truck driver: The truck driver is the first and most obvious person to blame after a wide turn accident. The first thing to consider is whether the driver took the required precautions when taking the turn. Did they signal? Did they clear their blind spots? In most cases, the truck driver holds at least some level of liability.
- The trucking company: Employers are responsible for making sure that their drivers are qualified to be on the road. This means ensuring that they have the proper license, the proper training, and are capable of handling the responsibility of driving a large truck. The employer may be liable if they did not provide proper training, if they knowingly let the driver drive before they were ready, or they knew the driver had a health or addiction issue that would interfere with their ability to drive safely.
- The truck manufacturer: In some cases, a mechanical defect can lead to an improper wide turn. If the brakes fail or the steering freezes, the truck may not move as it should. In this case, the part or truck manufacturer may hold some financial liability.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
Claims involving large trucks are complicated. They involve multiple parties, federal regulations, and often, severe injuries. A personal injury attorney can help you prove liability and make sure you get the care you need. After an accident, you deserve fair and just compensation for your injuries. If you have been involved in a wide right turn accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can provide more information about your legal rights.