Commercial trucks are significantly larger, heavier and slower to stop than passenger vehicles. As a result, the damage they can cause in an accident can be devastating. To ensure the safety of everyone on the road, all drivers are expected to drive cautiously and with respect for the limitations of other vehicles.
Because of the damage they can leave behind, commercial truck drivers shoulder the responsibility for accidents in many cases. However, everyday drivers may also be liable for collisions with large trucks. A common mistake made by drivers of passenger vehicles is misjudging the space requirements and range of vision available to commercial truck drivers. Accidents that are caused by these mistakes are named no-zone accidents.
A no-zone accident occurs when a driver causes a collision by driving in one of a commercial truck driver’s four blind spots. These spots are located:
- Directly behind the truck: Any driver who drives too closely behind a commercial truck risks underriding the truck in the event of a sudden stop. This can cause serious injuries to the passengers of the smaller vehicle.
- In front of the commercial truck driver’s cab: It is recommended that drivers leave enough room that they can see the commercial truck in its entirety in the rear-view mirror before merging in front of it. This ensures that the truck driver is able to see these drivers and will have adequate time to stop, if needed, without rear-ending the vehicle.
- Beside the truck: It is especially difficult for truck drivers to see traffic on the right side of the truck. However, visibility can be poor on the left side as well. Drivers of non-commercial vehicles should respect this and avoid driving alongside the truck for more than the time required to pass it.
- Near the turning radius: In the event that a truck driver must make a wide turn, visibility can be poor and it is best that other drivers leave plenty of space for the truck to conduct the turn. Ignoring this risk and driving too closely near the truck’s side could result in a damaging collision.
Can the Truck Driver Be at Fault?
While drivers of passenger vehicles are expected to heed traffic laws and be respectful of the challenges of driving a commercial truck, truck drivers are also expected to check for traffic prior to making turns, changing speeds or merging into another lane. Truck drivers may be at fault for ignoring these requirements, as well as any other regulations implemented to improve the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely, such as:
- Driving while drowsy
- Distracted driving
- Exceeding the speed limit
- Typing information into an electronic device while behind the wheel
- Failing to adhere to sleep requirements implemented by the federal government
The Minimum Qualifications for Driving a Commercial Truck
To ensure that drivers have the minimum knowledge of applicable laws and skills necessary to operate their vehicles safely, commercial truck drivers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). To acquire this license in Washington, D.C., drivers must:
- Have a non-commercial driver’s license that is current
- Meet eligibility requirements such as identity verification and a 10-year history of responsible and safe driving
- Take and pass the necessary CDL knowledge tests
- Acquire a learner’s permit for commercial driving
- Participate in, and pass, a CDL road skills test
Drivers who are not eligible for a CDL include
- Drivers with a revoked or suspended non-commercial driver’s license
- Drivers with medical conditions such as diabetes
- Drivers with outstanding citations
Driving a commercial truck is a big responsibility that can significantly impact the lives of others on the road. If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a no-zone accident with a commercial truck, you may be able to seek compensation for injuries, a wrongful death or damage to your property. To learn more about commercial truck accidents, check out our legal blog. You may also contact the firm to speak with someone regarding your case.