The Dangers of Trucks Reversing – What All Drivers Should Know
Reversing and maneuvering a big rig isn’t the same as navigating a small passenger vehicle. Commercial trucks are long, heavy, and cumbersome – oversized trucks even more so. They have major blind spots on all sides of the truck, extending about 30 feet to the rear of the 18-wheeler. Truck drivers receive special training on backing up these trucks. Unfortunately, training isn’t always enough to prevent an accident and injuries.
How Many Truck Accidents Are Caused by Trucks Backing Up or Reversing?
In 2016, truck-driver related factors caused at least 32% of all fatal truck accidents in the U.S. These factors included speeding, distraction, and inattention. Distraction and inattention can contribute to reversing accidents. Negligent truckers may not properly look to make sure the road behind the vehicle is free and clear before backing up.
“Starting or backing improperly” caused 14 fatal truck accidents in 2016, or 0.3%. Dozens of other victims suffered non-fatal injuries in reverse-related truck accidents the same year.
Another common truck driver mistake that can cause reversing collisions is something obscuring vision. Vehicles, road design, and weather obstructing a truck driver’s vision caused 148 fatal truck accidents in 2016. If a driver can’t see his/her mirrors or behind the vehicle, it will be impossible to reverse safely.
Obscured vision, lack of truck driver training, failing to use proper reversing techniques, and driving recklessly can all cause dangerous truck accidents while backing up. If a large truck backs into a passenger car with enough force, an underride accident may occur. Underride accidents are often deadly for passenger vehicle occupants.
When the front of the passenger vehicle goes beneath the tall bed of a commercial truck, occupants can suffer fatal head and brain injuries. Luckily, most large trucks reverse too slowly for this to happen. Yet vehicle occupants can still sustain injuries and property damage in these wrecks. The most dangerous situations are inattentive truck drivers reversing their vehicles into bicyclists or pedestrians.
What Should Drivers Know About the Dangers of Trucks Reversing?
As a driver, it’s important to realize that a truck driver does not have the same visibility or maneuverability that you have when reversing your vehicle. Truck drivers have to turn the wheel in the opposite direction they want the trailer to reverse. They must back up safely despite enormous blind spots to the sides and rear of the vehicle. They do not have the same stopping power as smaller vehicles and may not be able to stop in time to avoid a collision, even if they see the vehicle behind them at the last second.
The best way to avoid a reverse-related trucking accident is to keep your distance. Never tailgate a commercial truck. This not only puts you at risk of the truck backing up on top of you – it also comes with a great risk of severe or fatal underride accident. Always stay out of a truck’s “No Zones,” or the large blind spots. Stay at least 30 feet away from the back of a commercial truck when driving or stopped in traffic. This gives you and the truck plenty of room to maneuver, if necessary. Remember: if you can’t see the truck’s mirrors, the truck driver can’t see you.
Make yourself as visible as possible when driving behind or next to a big rig in Los Angeles. Don’t be afraid to honk the horn if you notice a truck reversing too close to your vehicle. Be especially careful behind commercial trucks when in a parking lot, loading dock, or when the truck is trying to make a turn. These are common scenarios in which the truck driver may have to reverse the vehicle. Watch and listen for reverse lights and beeping as the truck is backing up. Keeping your distance and paying attention could save your life.