Truck accidents are usually more deadly and more serious than car accidents because of the size, weight, and dimensions of the trucks. One scary type of truck accident is a turning accident. These accidents are scary because the car that is struck is often just standing still or is traveling at a low rate of speed.
It’s somewhat understandable that a truck collision at 70 mph, a jackknife, rollover, or a cargo spill accident will cause serious harm, but it’s hard to understand why a truck driver can’t steer his/her truck correctly through a turn. It’s also difficult to understand how a turning accident could cause you life-threatening injuries or permanent harm. Yet, catastrophic truck turning accidents are very common.
What are the different types of truck turning accidents?
Truck turning accidents generally happen in the following three ways:
- Right-turn accidents. These turns are often the most dangerous because any vehicle to the right of the truck, when the truck turns, is likely to be crushed by the truck. The angles necessary to complete the turn are such that the rear of the truck is likely to move more to the right than either the truck driver or nearby car drivers can anticipate. Many truck drivers fail to maneuver to the left enough to ensure they don’t strike vehicles on the right. Right-turn accidents are especially dangerous at intersections where turning right on red is permitted, because other vehicles don’t anticipate the turn like they do when lights are green.
- Left-turn accidents. When a truck driver of any type of long truck such as an 18-wheeler turns left, the driver first needs to ensure he/she is in the left-most turning lane. To accomplish the turn, the driver needs to cross into the lanes of traffic coming from the opposite direction while also ensuring that the truck finishes the turn in the proper lanes going left. Drivers of large trucks often need to veer into the right-hand lane just to position the truck so it can complete the turn properly.
- U-turn accidents. Most cars and trucks cannot make a U-turn at an intersection. Some intersections have special designs to help vehicles make U-turns by entering ramps or other lanes to complete the turn. U-turns are risky for car drivers. For truck drivers, they are a nightmare because the truck is essentially turning – twice. Trucks that want to make U-turns should consider turning into a lot or making more than one single turn to fully reverse their direction of travel.
Why are truck turns so dangerous?
Some of the many reasons any type of turn by a truck is risky are the following:
- Tractor-trailer turns. One of the major difficulties with making a turn for trucks with tractor-trailers is that the driver needs to make sure that the trailer properly follows the tractor/cab so that both parts of the truck move together. If the trailer moves separately from the cab the truck is more likely to veer into other lanes of travel. The truck is also more likely to jackknife if the truck and cab don’t move in unison.
- The length of the truck. Generally, the longer the truck is, the wider the turn is. This is why most rigs and 18-wheelers now have signs that say this truck makes wide turns – to alert nearby drivers.
- The giant blind spots. Every time a truck turns, the driver has to use mirrors, cameras (if they are available), horns, lights, turn signals, and other strategies to ensure the driver can see the traffic to the right, left, rear, and front of the truck.
- The position of the truck. Truck turns are especially problematic if the truck is too close to other vehicles when the driver starts the turn.
- Driver inexperience. Turning any type of truck, even a box truck, is dangerous. Drivers need to be educated about the proper and improper ways to turn. Drivers should experiment with turning in safe locations such as parking lots or on roads where there is little traffic before they drive on main roads.
Why are truck drivers liable for turning accidents?
Truck drivers may be liable for a turning accident for several reasons including
- Failing to look for blind spots
- Failing to position the truck correctly – before the turn, during the turn, and after the turn
- Failing to warn oncoming traffic
- Failing to look for any drivers near the truck
- Making the turn on a yellow light
- Failing to wait for other drivers to pass through the intersection or complete their own turns
- Failing to use extra caution at night or when the roads are wet
- Driving fatigue
- A lack of familiarity with traffic routes
In addition to the truck driver, trucking companies may be liable for the accident too. These defendants include – the owner of the truck if different from the driver, the trucking company that hired the driver, a trucking broker, a shipping company, and other companies.
Victims of truck accidents may suffer traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, traumatic amputation, broken bones, internal organ damage, and other types of injuries. In the most tragic cases; the occupants of a car or another truck, a motorcycle rider, a pedestrian, or a bicycle rider may die.
At Philbrook Law Office, our Vancouver and Battle Ground, WA truck accident lawyers promptly investigate the scene of the crash and the vehicles involves in the truck accident. We question every witness involved in the accident. Our lawyers fight to obtain all the damages you deserve from liable defendants including your pain and suffering, medical bills, lost income, and other damages.
To discuss your Washington truck accident claim, call us at 360-695-3309 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We represent injury victims and the families of anyone killed in a trucking accident – including turning accidents.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.