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A fully loaded tractor-trailer is 70 to 80 feet long and can weigh 80,000 pounds. A bicyclist might weigh 180 pounds and be 72 inches in height. When you think of big rigs, you visualize them on the highways, but they have to get their deliveries into the cities one way or another. Once they’re in city traffic, any number of accident scenarios can develop.
Blind Spots
Tractor-trailers have more blind spots and larger blind spots than passenger vehicles. The driver’s vision is extremely compromised on all four sides. The blind spots can extend as far as 20 feet in front of or on the side of the vehicle and as far as 30 feet behind it.
The Height Blind Spot Issue
The truck’s height also presents issues. The height difference between a tractor-trailer and a person on a bicycle is so significant that a truck driver might not be able to see a bicyclist. That rider is also at risk of being rear-ended by a tractor-trailer because of the large blind spot in front of the tractor. Trucks don’t have rear-view mirrors either, and nearly all trucks don’t have cameras that enable drivers to see what might be in their rear blind spot. Although a truck will be traveling slowly in reverse, its rear blind spot can be deadlier than its front blind spot.
The No-Zones
Nearly 25 years ago, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched the No-Zone program for purposes of educating the public on sharing the road with tractor-trailers and buses. No-zones are the blind spot areas where bicyclists can fall out of the truck driver’s field of vision. Sure, under California law, bicyclists have the right to share the road with motor vehicles, but no-zones are the same blind spot areas where collisions are most likely to occur that the FMCSA wants you to stay away from.
Getting Squeezed
Given their gigantic size and lack of maneuverability, large trucks must veer to the left when preparing to make a right turn. This might confuse a bicyclist who is on the right side of the tractor-trailer. It’s important for bicyclists to sense that possible right turn and give way to the truck. The truck driver might never see the bicyclist on the right.
Dangerous Side Impacts
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, side impacts with trucks kill almost half of all bicyclists. Of course, the bicyclist is going to fall, but he or she might also get pulled under the truck’s trailer and get dragged or crushed. Side guard protection is available and relatively inexpensive. As per one British study, side guards on large trucks dramatically reduced bicyclist deaths by 61 percent.
Truck Drivers Can’t See Much
An ounce prevention beats a pound of cure any day. If you’re a bicyclist who lived through an accident with a tractor-trailer, it’s likely that your injuries are going to stay with you for the rest of your life.. While knowing that tractor-trailers have the biggest blind spots of any vehicles on the road, never assume that you’re within the driver’s field of vision. Most of the time, you’re not, so you’ll want to take all necessary preventative measures to avoid a collision.
If you pass a tractor-trailer, leave plenty of room ahead of it before changing lanes to get directly in front of it. Always pass on the truck’s left side. Stay away from the right side of any large truck. If you can’t see the trucker’s head in the truck mirrors, that driver can’t see you. If you are a bicyclist who was injured in an accident with the driver of a large truck anywhere in California, contact us right away to arrange for a free consultation and case evaluation. Our legal team focuses on bicycle accidents and injuries. We don’t even charge any legal fees unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for you.

Contact Bay Area Bicycle Law

Big rig accidents can result in expensive medical treatment, pain and emotional trauma. You’ll want your injuries treated professionally and responsibly. You’ll want your California bicycle accident personal injury case treated effectively, efficiently and professionally too.
The attorneys at Bay Area Bicycle Law focus their practice on bicycle related injuries. Years of advocacy for bicycle victims have seasoned our attorneys with the necessary skills, knowledge base and familiarity to handle bicycle accidents cases to the upmost level of professional expertise. Since bicycle accident related injuries present unique legal issues that oftentimes render them completely different from conventional auto accidents or accidents involving other types of vehicles, BABL’s collective expertise in bicycle cases is imperative in helping clients achieve the most favorable settlements possible.
We work with clients in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Berkeley, Oakland, Sacramento and all over Northern California. Contact us today for a free consultation after any bicycle accident.