Philadelphia cyclists have seen the big commercial trucks clogging the road, scaring the daylights out of them as they roar by. Cyclist have good reason to be wary. Not because of the drivers—they actually drive much safer than the average passenger driver—but because of the size and mass of these trucks outweigh a cyclist by as much as 400 times.
A simple bump can send a cyclist off their bike and onto the pavement which can cause serious injury or death.
Tractor Trailers and Cyclist Fatalities
In 2016, across the country, over 4,000 people died in big rig accidents. Out of these, 16 percent, or roughly 650, were cyclists and pedestrians. The Philadelphia area gets its share every year, and these accidents are typically caused by a few common factors.
All drivers know about blind spots. You look in your mirror and start to change lanes and suddenly see a car that seemingly materialized right next to you. Blind spots in the trucking industry are called “no zones” which means that the driver can’t see that area.
The larger the truck the more no zones there are. Many cyclists think that with all those mirrors on a big rig, they can see all around their truck. The truth is that the mirrors help, but there are too many spots that can’t be seen by the driver.
According to the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration, there are precautions one can take to limit risk from blind spots:
- A commercial motor vehicle has large blind spots around all four sides.
- Take extra care in passing and being passed by large trucks and buses.
- Stay out of blind spots when a truck or bus is turning, backing up or changing lanes.
- Large vehicles need longer following distance to see vehicles behind them. If you can’t see the driver in his or her side mirror, the driver can’t see you.
The Right Hook
One of the most common and devastating accident to a cyclist is getting a “right hook” by a big truck This is happens when a large truck turns off one road onto another taking a right-hand turn and hits a cyclist who no-doubt was in his or her blind spot.
There are two basic types of right hooks. The first is when a large truck passes the cyclist on his or her left then turns right suddenly usually giving the cyclist no time to react.
The other occurs when a semi-truck is making a right-hand turn at an intersection. As motorists, most have seen the big-rig driver take a wide swing to the left when making a right turn. This is to avoid the back wheels from hitting a telephone pole or ride up on the sidewalk. The longer the vehicle, the more the driver has to swing out.
The unsuspecting cyclists sees that extra space and moves into it believing the truck is going to go straight or even turn left. When this happens, tragedy often results as the cyclist is knocked down and unable to avoid the back wheels.
Who Pays When I am Injured by a Commercial Truck?
Truck drivers are either independent contractors or they work directly for an employer. In either case, federal law requires big commercial trucks have a minimum of $750,000 in liability coverage to cover any accident damages.
If the driver is an employee, then the employer is liable for the damages so long as the driver was operating in the course and have scope of the company’s business. It’s customary for companies to have more than the minimum with most having at least a $1 million policy.
What Should I do if I get hit by a Large Truck?
Don’t suffer alone and leave it to an insurance agent to determine what compensation you deserve for your injuries. They don’t owe you anything but they do work for a company whose profits rely on paying you as little as they can.