Trucks, tractor-trailers, semis, and buses can be more dangerous to each other and to other vehicles than cars can. Why? Because they have “no zones.” No zones are the blind spots where even the most attentive truck driver cannot see other vehicles. As a result, the drivers have no idea that another vehicle is there. They may move into another lane, back up, or make other moves that they assume are safe – but that can be dangerous and even fatal to other motorists.
What’s the best way to deal with no zones? Be aware of them. Drive defensively whenever you are around a large truck. Position your own vehicle so that the truck driver can see you at all times.
Make Sure You Can See the Driver’s Face
The best defensive driving tip around trucks is to look for the driver’s face in the side mirrors. If you see the truck driver’s face, it means the driver can also see you. It’s a sure sign that you are not in a blind spot.
But if you look in the driver’s side mirrors on a truck and do not see his face, the driver also cannot see you. You are in a blind spot. They have no idea you are driving to the side of them or in back of them. Your chances of having an accident while driving in the truck’s “no zone” are much greater.
Avoid the 4 “No Zones”
There are “no zones” on each side of a large, 18-wheeler style truck.
- The front
- Left side
- Right side
- The rear
A truck driver cannot see for almost 20 feet in front of his vehicle, because of the way trucks are designed and the height at which drivers sit. Never cut in front of a truck in the 20-foot no zone in front.
The Left and Right Sides
Tractor trailers have very big blind spots on both sides, that angle outward. Use the rule of thumb that you should be able to see the driver. To be on the safe side, avoid driving to the side of a truck if at all possible.
Many drivers do not realize that trucks don’t have a rear-view mirror. As a result, they have a blind spot of roughly 200 feet from the truck’s rear end. To be on the safe side, don’t follow too closely behind a truck. Not only can the driver not see you, but the size of an average vehicle relative to the significant height of the truck makes it impossible for you to see what might be ahead of it and cause it make a sudden stop.
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- State of Utah Department of Transportation. Know the No-Zones. https://www.udot.utah.gov/trucksmart/motorist-home/know-the-no-zones/.
- U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. What Is the No-Zone? http://www.dps.gov.mp/downloads/nozone-brochure.pdf.