Picture this: You're cruising along a Washington State highway, and suddenly, to your right, a cyclist teeters on the shoulder, sharing the asphalt with speedy cars and mammoth trucks. Perhaps you've been in that cyclist's shoes, pedaling your way down the highway. Highways come with their conveniences, but they also house significant dangers, especially when the giant rigs decide it's time to dance through their wide turns. These aren't your average turns; they're sprawling maneuvers that demand patience and care. Give these trucks the room they need, be ever-vigilant, and avoid lurking in their blind spots. Even if you are as cautious as can be, if a truck driver makes a mistake in their turn, you still could end up severely injured. That’s when you need the help of a truck accident attorney to ensure you do not have to pay more than you already have for this accident, and you can receive the compensation you deserve.
Understanding the Complexity of Commercial Truck Turns
In the world of truck turns, understanding the why and how is essential for safe driving. When sharing the road with massive semi-trucks, it's not just their size that can make you nervous. It's their complex turns that present a significant challenge. These trucks are equipped with extensive trailers, making their turns unlike anything you'd encounter with regular vehicles. Their size and length require more space, making wide turns a necessity. When a truck executes a turn, it might encroach into neighboring lanes. To ensure road safety, it's crucial to stay informed and take the necessary precautions.
The Statistics that Matter
Let's dive into some eye-opening statistics that shed light on the risks associated with truck turns. According to an insightful CNN article, truck drivers often avoid left turns for a reason. A study from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Association has identified turning left as one of the leading "critical pre-crash events," accounting for 22.2 percent of accidents, compared to a mere 1.2 percent attributed to right turns.
Further emphasizing the dangers, 61 percent of accidents occurring during turns or at intersections involve left turns, contrasting sharply with only 3.1 percent involving right turns. The statistics reveal an alarming truth: left turns pose significantly greater risks. They are three times more likely to result in pedestrian fatalities compared to right turns, a sobering fact established by data collected by New York City's transportation planners.
To complicate matters, truck drivers sometimes execute a maneuver known as "the jughandle." This involves a truck initially turning in the opposite direction before swinging back to its intended path. While this move might confuse other road users, it's an inherently dangerous tactic, often leading to a phenomenon called "off-tracking," where the trailer's wheels cut into corners.
It's essential to remember that accidents related to truck turns don't rest solely on the shoulders of truck drivers. The blame also extends to the infrastructure, where road designs often overlook the specific turning radius of large trucks.
Why Do Semi-Trucks Make Wide Turns?
The answer lies in the very nature of semi-trucks. Their significant size and long trailers necessitate more space for turns compared to regular vehicles. To put this into perspective, semi-trailers in the United States can stretch up to 53 feet. This considerable length results in the rear wheels of the trailer following a different path than the front wheels of the truck when turning. As a result, trucks require extra room to execute turns without encountering curbs, signs, or other obstacles.
Adding to the complexity is the rear swing, where the rear end of the trailer swings outward in the opposite direction of the turn before aligning with the truck's path. This swing can pose a hazard to vehicles, pedestrians, and roadside objects.
What Accidents Are Caused by Wide Turns from Trucks in Kennewick?
Accidents stemming from wide turns by trucks can lead to various incidents, posing dangers to fellow road users. Some common scenarios include:
- Side-Impact Collisions: During wide right turns, especially at intersections, trucks may encroach into adjacent lanes, potentially causing side-impact collisions with vehicles traveling alongside.
- Pedestrian and Cyclist Incidents: Pedestrians and cyclists, already vulnerable on the road, face heightened risks when trucks make wide turns. The rear swing of the trailer or the turning truck itself can lead to accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists.
- Rollover Accidents: When trucks turn too sharply or at excessive speeds, rollover accidents can occur. Unbalanced cargo or poor road conditions can further exacerbate the risks.
- Multi-Vehicle Collisions: Wide-turning trucks can cause confusion and sudden stops among other drivers, potentially triggering chain reactions of rear-end collisions and multi-vehicle incidents.
- Truck Tip-Overs: In extreme cases, trucks attempting wide turns at high speeds or with poorly secured loads can tip over, endangering the driver, fellow road users, and potential cargo spills.
Safety Tips for Navigating Turning Trucks
- Maintain a Safe Distance: If you find yourself driving behind a semi-truck with turn signals flashing, be prepared for a wide turn. Keep a safe distance to allow the truck the space it needs. Never attempt to pass a turning truck on the inside, as this can be extremely dangerous.
- Exercise Patience: Wide turns require time. Avoid honking or rushing the truck driver during the turn. Be patient and wait until the truck has completed the maneuver safely.
- Beware of Blind Spots: Trucks have larger blind spots than smaller vehicles. Stay aware of these blind spots, particularly when driving alongside or behind a truck. If you can't see the truck driver's mirrors, remember that they likely can't see you either.
- Exercise Caution at Intersections: When approaching an intersection with a turning semi-truck, ensure there is ample space for the turn. Avoid pulling up too closely on the truck's side to steer clear of the rear swing.
- Stay Visible: If you're a pedestrian or cyclist, make yourself visible to truck drivers when they're making wide turns. Avoid blind spots and maintain a safe distance to ensure your safety.
Trust in Telaré Law If You’ve Been Injured in Kennewick
While understanding the complexities of truck turns is crucial for safe driving, accidents can still occur due to someone else's negligence. The blame may fall on the driver, the trucking company, the truck manufacturers, cargo loaders, or multiple parties.
In such challenging times, having a knowledgeable and experienced Kennewick truck accident attorney by your side is invaluable. At Telaré Law, our team of experienced legal professionals ensures a smooth insurance or lawsuit process, presenting all evidence in support of your claim. Our commitment to your well-being aligns seamlessly with our empathetic and compassionate brand voice. To schedule a free consultation, you can call our office in Kennewick or submit our contact form. We also maintain an office in Richland.