In 2012, Nebraska motor vehicle accidents took the lives of 212 people and injured 15,872. A motor vehicle accident occurred every 17 minutes. Bicyclists comprised 328 of the injured in 2012, while no bicyclists were killed last year. According to the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety, Nebraska averages two bicycle related deaths per year and approximately 324 injuries to bicyclists each year. One of the main dangers to bicyclists are tractor trailer accidents, most of which could have been prevented. One of the most frequent truck/bicycle accident causes is the improper right hand turn by truck operators.
Wide right hand turn tractor trailer accidents occur for two main reasons: either the truck driver didn’t swing out far enough or the truck driver swung too far out. The correct way to make right turns is taught in truck driver school and professional drivers are continually warned of the dangers of not making a right turn widen enough. Most trailers have visual reminders on them that serve two purposes. First, it reminds the truck driver to make wide enough turns, but it also warns following traffic that the vehicle does make wide turns. Truck drivers sometimes find themselves in situations where they must make a sharp right hand turn. In this instance it is important the driver clears objects on his or her right side before proceeding.
As motorists and cyclists we must be aware that truck drivers have blind spots. If you cannot see a truck’s side mirrors, the truck driver cannot see you. One-third of all crashes between large trucks and cars take place in a truck’s blind spots. Does that mean the truck driver has no responsibility for their blind spots? A truck driver cannot use his or her “blind spot” to avoid responsibility when he or she strikes someone who is in his or her blind spot. Truck drivers have a responsibility not to enter a space he or she cannot see.
As cyclists and motorists, we can follow a few guidelines to prevent these types of collisions. First, ride to the left and never pass on the right. If you have a bicycle lane available to you, be sure to use it. Be sure you have checked behind you, in front of you and to both sides when approaching an intersection or prior to turning right. Always take every precaution for your own safety.
If you have been involved in an accident with a truck, be sure to contact an attorney experienced in truck accident litigation. Remember your case must be filed within a specific time period so you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible after your accident.