Common Hazards: The “Right Hook”
The crash type known as a “right hook” is another common urban crash.
There are 2 basic types of right hook crashes. One happens when an oblivious driver overtakes a cyclist and immediately turns right. This is best prevented by riding far enough into the lane to make drivers change lanes to pass, the ones who want to turn right will be more likely to wait until you pass the intersection. The other type of right hook happens when a cyclist is passing slower traffic and rides into the blind spot of a turning vehicle.
The most deadly of these involve large vehicles. It’s essential that you understand the characteristics of large vehicles and the limitations of their drivers!
A large vehicle must make a wide turn. As a result, it may be on the far left side of the lane and appear to be going straight. The vehicle will also off-track, so while the front turns wide, the back wheels will track close to the curb at the corner.
If you ride into the space left for off-tracking, you will be knocked over before you know what’s happening, and you cannot escape the rear wheels.
Trucks have large blind spots along their right side and in front of the high cab. These are areas the driver physically cannot see.
A truck driver has a lot of responsibility when making a turn in a complex urban environment. He must watch for pedestrians crossing the road he is turning onto. He must also ensure his rig does not off-track over the curb and hit a pedestrian. When turning into a narrow lane, he will often have to drive the front of his rig into oncoming side of the road, thus, he needs to look ahead for conflicting traffic. The last thing a truck driver should be focused on is traffic sneaking up on his right side blind spot.
We all have eyes in the front of our heads. Coincidentally, our traffic system operates best by placing the legal responsibility on avoiding what’s in front of us. Don’t make the drivers in front of you responsible for you.
Don’t pass trucks! Don’t stop between a truck and the curb at an intersection. If a truck passes you, slow down and let it get well ahead of you. Be aware that a truck driver might turn right from the left lane, this happens frequently on roads with very narrow lanes.