You’ve likely experienced it. You’re driving down the highway and a tractor-trailer quickly cuts you off, barely missing your vehicle. Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky. All too often, circumstances like this lead to preventable collisions that cause serious or permanent injuries to drivers and passengers like you.
Given the sheer size of commercial tractor-trailers, space management is vitally important for commercial drivers to maintain a standard of safety. There is one tool specifically designed for commercial drivers to maintain proper space management: mirrors. Mirrors act as an extra set of eyes for a truck driver. Without them, commercial drivers have even larger blind spots that prevent them from seeing potential hazards surrounding their vehicle. Safety should be the number one concern when operating a commercial motor vehicle.
Without proper use of mirrors, it becomes impossible for drivers to properly manage the space around their truck when turning, changing lanes or backing. All too often, a driver assumes they have enough space and makes a driving maneuver without adequate checks to make sure no one is in a position where they could be harmed by the tractor-trailer. These maneuvers are so quick that other drivers are powerless to avoid being hit.
So, what should a truck driver do to be safe when making these driving maneuvers? Each state has a variation of the Commercial Driver’s License Manual, which contains guidance and instructions for drivers on how to properly utilize their mirrors. The CDL Manual highlights the importance of mirrors and specifically explains to drivers how to properly use them including, but not limited to, the following:
- Ensure the mirrors are properly adjusted prior to starting any trip while the truck is straight
- Regularly check mirrors while driving to be aware of traffic
- Check mirrors in order to have a plan in an emergency
- Check mirrors in order to know when a vehicle enters your blind spot
- Check mirrors more often when changing lanes, turning, merging or making a tight maneuver
- Continually check mirrors on both sides before and during changing lanes, turning or driving in reverse
- Utilize the mirrors to ensure no other vehicles are alongside the tractor or trailer and/or about to pass
- Double-check mirrors before and after signaling a turn or lane change
- Ensure there is a large enough gap before changing lanes and/or merging
- Check mirrors right after completing lane change
- Check mirrors to ensure the truck will not hit anything
- Use mirrors on both sides when backing
- Continue checking rear-view mirror when traveling in reverse
Clearly, mirrors are fundamental tools for truck drivers. This knowledge found in the CDL manual is essential for all commercial drivers to know and understand before they are allowed on the roadway. In fact, proper knowledge of mirror utilization is required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration under 49 C.F.R. § 383.111. A truck driver assumes a massive amount of responsibility when taking control of an 80,000-pound vehicle that can cause severe/catastrophic damage if it is not properly operated. Proper mirror utilization allows a driver to perceive and react to other vehicles surrounding their vehicle and helps prevent crashes.
Bordas & Bordas has properly handled many commercial trucking accidents where truck drivers decided to change lanes, merge, turn or back-up without properly using their mirrors. Their failure to follow the guidelines provided for in the CDL Manual directly results in catastrophic injuries and damages. Please call us if you or a loved one have been affected in a similar circumstance. We will investigate all potential violations and hold the responsible parties accountable for any damages they caused.