Drivers of large commercial vehicles are constantly trying to avoid obstacles and other drivers on the road, day in and day out. They log in thousands of miles behind the wheel and it can be assumed that they have no desire to be involved in an accident. However, if they are in a multiple vehicle crash, it is highly likely that the accident could result in a fatality since about 50% of all commercial truck crashes do. To keep safe, other motorists need to understand that these truck drivers have a lack of visibility, especially at night,

Nighttime Driving Issues

Of course visibility is reduced at night, but what many drivers may not realize is that truck drivers have less visibility at night then passenger vehicles. Most may think that being higher up with a larger windshield would help with visibility but that is not the case at night.

Due to the angle and height of most commercial trucks, the ability to see reflected light off signage and even other objects can be impaired. This is referred to as the observation angle and is attributed to the height between the headlights and the driver’s line of vision. This distance is much higher in most commercial trucks than passenger vehicles, which means that what a person in a car is able to see easily is not necessarily so in a large truck.

It is estimated that 42% of crashes with commercial trucks happen during the nighttime, even though traffic volumes are less. Keeping in mind the stopping distance is much greater for high weight trucks, it is important to remember that they can only see as far as their headlight beam. This means a commercial semi-trailer truck going over 50 MPH with low-beam headlights on cannot stop in time to avoid a non-moving object. They simply will not see it in time; it will be out of their range of vision.

By understanding what issues these drivers are dealing with at night, other motorists can make alterations to the way they approach these vehicles at night. Some tips to remember include:

  • Signs. Do not assume a truck driver sees a sign. If you are at a four-way stop at night and a large truck is approaching the intersection, wait for them to stop before continuing through. It is better to wait a few second make sure they see the sign then to be hit by a several ton vehicle straight on.
  • Stalled vehicle. If your vehicle is stalled on a road at night, do not stay in it if you cannot get it off the road. If a large truck comes down the road, they may not see your vehicle in time to stop.
  • Passing. Be careful when passing a large truck at night. They may have issues seeing you. Be extra careful moving over in front of them and slowing down, especially if you are out of the range of their headlights.

Thank you to the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers for this article on truck safety. If you are in Utah and in need of a a truck accident attorney, don’t hesitate to contact Christensen & Hymas.

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Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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