Getting into an accident with a semi-truck is one of the greatest fears for many drivers, and rightly so. Because of their massive size and weight, an accident with a tractor-trailer is often fatal.

As recently as 2019, over 4,000 individuals lost their lives in accidents with tractor-trailers. The overwhelming majority (67 percent) were passengers in the smaller vehicle.

One thing that makes 18-wheelers particularly dangerous is the size of their blind spots. Because of their length and the fact they sit so high up, there are four blind spots that can make it exceedingly difficult for a truck driver to see. Even though truck drivers are trained to check their blind spots frequently, especially before a lane change, they are human and sometimes fail to do so. 

This can lead to a sideswipe collision. Sideswipes account for 10 percent of all accidents involving large trucks. Another 23 percent are rear-end collisions. To help prevent these collisions and others like them, it is important for drivers to know where a truck’s blind spots are and how to traverse them safely.

The Four Blind Spots on an 18-Wheeler

Every vehicle has a blind spot—a place to the side, in front, or behind it where it is difficult to see other vehicles. The same is true for 18-wheelers. And because they are so long and high up, the blind spots on semis are much bigger than those of the average passenger vehicle. 

The four main blind spots on an 18-wheeler are:

  • Immediately in front of the truck
  • Directly behind the truck
  • On the driver side close to the front of the vehicle
  • On the passenger side close to the font of the vehicle

Because tractor-trailers sit so high up and have a large engine, cars and motorcycles right in front of the big rig might be unseen by the driver. The same is true for vehicles directly behind the truck. While the side mirrors on semis are big and quite effective they don’t allow the driver to see behind the semi.

However, the mirrors are effective at showing the driver cars that are to the side and farther to the back of the trailer. But as cars move closer to the front of the semi, it is harder for the driver to see them. 

Tips for Avoiding Accidents with 18-Wheelers

While you can’t always avoid a semi truck’s blind spot, there are several things you can do to minimize the amount of time spent in one. There are also several tips every driver should follow to keep from getting in an accident with a semi. 

These tips include:

  • Give the truck plenty of space. Once you pass an 18-wheeler don’t drive right in front of it. Make sure it is at least 100 feet behind you.
  • Don’t follow a big rig closely. Give a semi at least 100 feet in front of your vehicle or consider passing it.
  • Don’t linger in a side blind spot. When passing a truck, get in and out of the blind spot as quickly and safely as possible.
  • Never drive distracted. Do not text or even talk on a cell phone when near a large truck.

Following these simple best practices should greatly decrease your chances of getting in an accident with an 18-wheeler.

What to Do if You Are in an Accident with an 18-Wheeler

If you are in an accident with a semi-truck the first thing you should do is seek medical attention for yourself or anyone else who was injured in the crash. Once you are safe and cared for, you may also want to consider hiring a personal injury attorney who has experience representing truck accident victims.

Truck drivers must follow strict regulations and protocols. When they don’t play by the rules and happen to cause an accident, they can be liable for the damage they cause. This means you might be eligible for compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and even pain and suffering. Without a doubt, the best way to maximize the compensation you receive is with the help of a skilled attorney.