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  1. #1
    GNU Cyclist
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    Blind spots of trucks

    Some revealing sketches showing the different "zones of invisibility" of which a cyclist needs to be aware when they are near a tractor-trailer or other large articulated vehicle. Original source is the Moving Target blog, mostly centered around the messenger scene in London, UK. So the diagrams all deal with traffic on the left-hand of the road. As some of the comments point out it's worth noting that the bike lanes installed "for our safety" put us exactly in the wrong place near one of these things. Summary: stay well away.

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    DirtRider DirtMO*SHette's Avatar
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    i know i've seen semi's where they have a decal that says... "if you cant see my mirrors, then i cant see you". i think that should be on all semi's
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    Opt-in Member GreenGrasshoppr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DirtMO*SHette View Post
    i know i've seen semi's where they have a decal that says... "if you cant see my mirrors, then i cant see you". i think that should be on all semi's
    I dunno.

    Maybe, big rig owners and operators should take some responsibility and install mirrors (and cameras, the technology is pretty cheap now) to ensure they can see everything they might crush/kill.

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    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    I've been looking at trucks around my work (lots of industrial companies here), and many of them have convex mirrors mounted on the left side up near the grill area to eliminate that particular blind spot on the left side in front of the door mounted mirrors. Seems like an easy solution to that particular problem.
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    Senior Member StrangeWill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenGrasshoppr View Post
    I dunno.

    Maybe, big rig owners and operators should take some responsibility and install mirrors (and cameras, the technology is pretty cheap now) to ensure they can see everything they might crush/kill.
    When you're making barely any money as it is due to deregulation of the trucking industry and high gas prices, you're going to turn around and ask truckers to blow more money?

    Anyway, the more mirrors/cameras you add, the more things a driver will need to pay attention to, and the more likely a driver will miss one of the proposed 16 mirror/cams.

    How about we go about doing it the same way it's been done since they've been around: Pay some damn attention/respect and give them breathing space. That or increasing their wage some 50% as it should be...

  6. #6
    livin' the nightmare syn0n's Avatar
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    They have televison commercials out here that show where the blind spots of the trucks are. seems like we have a probem with motorists driving alongside big rigs and getting hit by them when they try to change lanes. Whether I'm riding or driving, I stay the hell out of their blind spots and watch closely for turn signals. I'd rather just stop or slow down than get smashed. Being dead right does me no good at all.

    Besides, I think it is rediculous to expect these big rig drivers to be able to see everything, all the time.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    One of the things that bugs me is the suggestion that we shouldn't force truck drivers to adopt some safety precautions because of their economics. Basically, by mandating a left side spotter mirror, you are making one of the hidden costs of trucking (accidents involving blind spots) into a non-hidden cost (cost of outfitting a truck fleet with an extra mirror). The problem is that the hidden cost is very real, but is born by people other than the owners of the truck (in the case of Tracy Sparling, the truck driver got off on a ~$250 fine while a young lady lost her life, all for want of a mirror which would have cost the owner of the truck ~the cost of the ticket). By uncovering this hidden cost, the cost is amortized and it is paid by the correct party.

    By mandating a simple mirror, yes, the trucking industry is burdened, but without a mandate, they are cheating the economics to get out from under this burden - this just corrects the economics to where it should be.

    FWIW, there is probably an economic reason for the trucking industry to include the mirrors. Looking at a majority of tractor trailers around my work, they have spotter mirrors on at least the left side, and many times on both sides of the rig. Why is this? It isn't mandated. Probably because, by having a mirror there, you don't need to pay for a spotter to ride in the rig with the driver on a trip that won't be long enough to require two drivers.

    And to reply to syn0n, if it is ridiculous to require big rig drivers to be perfect in seeing things they might run over, then it is also ridiculous to expect that cyclists or motorcyclists will always be perfect in not getting themselves in these situations. Is this merely an act of god then, should these imperfections collide? Or should we be trying to minimize these situations and apply the cost of these minimizations to the correct party?
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  8. #8
    livin' the nightmare syn0n's Avatar
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    I think the public should be educated more that drivers of large trucks have significant blindspots, and that these should be avoided. I sympathize with many of the people who get injured or killed by riding or driving in these spots, but more mirrors doesn't mean all blindspots are eliminated. Nor am I saying that truckers shouldn't be responsible for negligence. But these spots are largely easy to avoid.

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    Senior Member StrangeWill's Avatar
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    @Brian Ratliff:
    You're not some super genius, if there was a special mirror spot that could save the trucking industry millions they would be implementing it already. Most trucks here have TWO nose mirrors along with their standard set of mirrors both flat and convex. All vehicles have blind spots, from the tiny mini cooper to the big semis, you can NEVER eliminate them without taking too much focus off another location. Do you ride with 4 mirrors on your bike? Because I'm pretty sure with whatever setup you got I can find a spot to sneak up around you that you wont see me, and you're on a bloody bike.

    Damn Americans will read a bumper sticker about any old dumb ****, but they wont read a huge sign on the back of a truck that practically says "stay out of my blind spots you dumbarse".

    This system has worked fine for those of us that pay attention.

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    - Brian and others of a similar opinion.

    I'm not sure if I can track down the statistic, but I'm pretty certain that per mile travelled, any commercial vehicle larger than a white van (and thus requiring an advanced license to drive), is less likely to have a collision with another vehicle or pedestrian. One of the reasons that truck drivers get a bad rep, which isn't entirely deserved, is that the effects of collisions tend to be much more catastrophic. It's even represented in common culture. After all, I'm guessing it would be nothing new for someone suffering a bad hangover or a short-term debilitative disease to comment that they feel like they've been hit by a bus or a truck. In reality, far more people get hit by cars and lighter commercial vehicles. However, with the result far less damaging, events are reported less often and more casualties are likely to be able to get up and walk away.

    However, while it's not unreasonable to pay due attention on this smaller portion of incidents, it's worth paying better attention to the bigger causes of these collisions. In a recent news article on British tv, a study of accident reports involving trucks found that when the truck driver was at fault the most common contributary factors were fatigue and stress. As has been mentioned up-thread, truck drivers tend to be poorly paid. This causes a culture of overworking, which leads to fatigue. Add to this the corporate practice of juggling the working time regulations in their favour, rather than in the interests of driver health and road safety and you get a multiplication of the danger. On top of that, the distance and turnaround targets are often set at unreasonable levels. It doesn't even end there. It's a well known issue, and even a part of vehicular design, that truck drivers tend to be unfit, overweight and indulge in poor dietary choices. Whilst this isn't an absolute, and I accept that there are many very healthy truck drivers out there who aren't salad dodgers, the stereotype isn't borne out of fiction and there is a prevailing culture in the industry.

    So in this situation, where truck drivers are likely to be fatigued, stressed and potentially have poorer reaction responses, why is it that the first and typical response is that drivers should be given more to do and more personal responsibility? I don't disagree that this should be a measure at some point, but shouldn't we be targeting other causes before we do that?

  11. #11
    Senior Member Fear&Trembling's Avatar
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    Interesting short doc from the UK about lorries, blindspots, cyclists etc...

    Lorries and Towns Don't Mix

    http://showcase.commedia.org.uk/arti...view/390/1/13/
    Last edited by Fear&Trembling; 01-23-08 at 06:54 AM.

  12. #12
    Violin guitar mandolin
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    My understanding is that traffic criminal laws and the civil concepts of duty apply to those driving trucks. If so, then violation of such a law, including laws directing one to keep a lookout when changing lanes, turning corners, etc. should apply. Similarly, where a legally recognized duty exists, such as to keep a lookout, and a truck driver breaches that duty resulting in injury, then the driver should be liable.

    Am I missing something?

    That someone chooses not to obey a law or to go ahead with uncertainty as to the safety of their actions because behaving safely would be a bit of trouble doesn't seem to absolve those who don't drive trucks of their criminal or civil liability. Are there specific statutes exempting truck drivers?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mandovoodoo View Post
    My understanding is that traffic criminal laws and the civil concepts of duty apply to those driving trucks. If so, then violation of such a law, including laws directing one to keep a lookout when changing lanes, turning corners, etc. should apply. Similarly, where a legally recognized duty exists, such as to keep a lookout, and a truck driver breaches that duty resulting in injury, then the driver should be liable.

    Are there specific statutes exempting truck drivers?
    Not specifically, but if you don't have line of sight, then how can you keep a lookout. Given that the law doesn't require a banksman at all times, it seems unreasonable for a truck driver to lookout for that which they cannot see.

    It's worth noting that there are often statutes in place that require drivers to operate a vehicle with due care and attention and with respect for the needs of other road users, these statutes typically also apply to bicycle riders. However, the law is often a grey area and each case can easily become an exercise in interpretation. After all, one driver's due care and attention is another driver's suicidal lunacy.

  14. #14
    Old Noob oldguy52's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mandovoodoo View Post

    Am I missing something?

    That someone chooses not to obey a law or to go ahead with uncertainty as to the safety of their actions because behaving safely would be a bit of trouble doesn't seem to absolve those who don't drive trucks of their criminal or civil liability. Are there specific statutes exempting truck drivers?
    Are you missing something? Well, yeah ..... apparently, any practical real world experience.

    Go out and get in a truck for a ride around your city for a day. Then come back and tell us about how things should be and what you think.

    There is a small chance you might "get it" after that.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member one_beatnik's Avatar
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    Maybe, big rig owners and operators should take some responsibility and install mirrors (and cameras, the technology is pretty cheap now) to ensure they can see everything they might crush/kill.
    Those guys are probably the most responsible drivers on the road. They make their living there. I will respect them all the time no matter if I'm in my cage, the motorcycle or my waterford. No matter how many mirrors, cameras, whatever they have, I'm darn hard to see when I'm on 2 wheels and I'm sure not going to argue with 40 tons and win. I will always give them the benefit of the doubt and I WILL LIVE.

    My understanding is that traffic criminal laws and the civil concepts of duty apply to those driving trucks. If so, then violation of such a law, including laws directing one to keep a lookout when changing lanes, turning corners, etc. should apply. Similarly, where a legally recognized duty exists, such as to keep a lookout, and a truck driver breaches that duty resulting in injury, then the driver should be liable.
    Mandovoodoo, check the research on the fines imposed when an over the road truck driver does break the law. It ain't pretty. They are actually held to a higher standard than car drivers and get stiffer penalties when they are in the wrong. It's just that when they are in the wrong, the person they wronged may not be alive. Again, I'm going to respect that. Riding aware is my responsibility and being aware of potential problems is riding aware.

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    GNU Cyclist
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldguy52 View Post
    Are you missing something? Well, yeah ..... apparently, any practical real world experience.

    Go out and get in a truck for a ride around your city for a day. Then come back and tell us about how things should be and what you think.

    There is a small chance you might "get it" after that.
    And it's worth reading the comments at the links to the original post. The poster "nozzer" who drew the sketches has been apparently trucker, motorbike rider and cyclist. He likens the avoiding of all the other road users to "carrying an electrified steel box the size of a single bed round your local Tesco (supermarket) on a Saturday without anyone getting a shock."

    Basically, even the best trucker in the world is going to have blind spots and not see you. It's legally their duty to look out for us as much as they can but that's not enough to stop us getting crushed, so being aware of the problem and avoiding it is smart.

  17. #17
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    How about a concept of shared responsibility? When motoring, cycling, or walking/jogging, are you defensively positioning yourself to avoid being accidentally cut off or right-hooked by a large truck? All vehicles have blind spots -- be aware of this and deal with it.

    For what it's worth, as a cyclist I am far more concerned about incompetent, distracted, or inebriated car drivers than about licensed operators of large trucks.
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    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by John E View Post
    How about a concept of shared responsibility? When motoring, cycling, or walking/jogging, are you defensively positioning yourself to avoid being accidentally cut off or right-hooked by a large truck? All vehicles have blind spots -- be aware of this and deal with it.

    For what it's worth, as a cyclist I am far more concerned about incompetent, distracted, or inebriated car drivers than about licensed operators of large trucks.
    Spot-On.

    I drive an 18-wheeler on second shift, which means I start my day in heavy afternoon traffic that actually goes until about 7pm these days. My route is an urban one and I'm in near proximity to thousands of cars and smaller trucks all the time. Not that many bikes, though, and I'm glad. SOme of the cyclists are absolute idiots - the worst road users out here.

    Just last night at dusk, I witnessed a gal on the bike, dressed entirely for stealth, doing about 25mph down a rather busy collector hill. There were several cars at the bottom waiting to turn left. I think she actually planned to pass them on the right - between them and parked cars! Looking back thru my rear view, I saw a puff of white smoke from rubber, a wobble, then a Yard Sale as she changed her mind at the last second. Bad decision making.

    As to the broader subject of shared responsibility, I agree entirely. I favor an aggressive campaign to educate driver and cyclists as to the laws and rules of co-navigating the roads and streets. Public - funded TV shots and radio spots should be a regular scene. Also, we give darned near anyone a license to drive a car. Why not add a few words on the test to talk about bikes?

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    Plus installation of sidebars between the front and rear wheel of trailers or of rigid trucks as is required by law in Europe. You then stand less, but not no, chance of being dragged under the rear wheels if you, or the driver, or both, make a mistake.

  20. #20
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by one_beatnik View Post
    Those guys are probably the most responsible drivers on the road. They make their living there. I will respect them all the time no matter if I'm in my cage, the motorcycle or my waterford.
    +1, especially about them being responsible. I always had the easiest time on the interstate when it was just just me and the truckers, usually at night after dinner. I'd hold off on driving back to college until after eating dinner with my mom & dad specifically because I knew that all the "Sunday drivers" were at home. The truckers knew the rules of the road exceptionally well and drove quite courteously -- they didn't compete for position, stayed to the right except for passing, etc. It was almost like all the typical American driver idiocy disappeared.

  21. #21
    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenGrasshoppr View Post
    I dunno.

    Maybe, big rig owners and operators should take some responsibility and install mirrors (and cameras, the technology is pretty cheap now) to ensure they can see everything they might crush/kill.
    Safety is everyones responsibility.
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  22. #22
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    No matter what safety devices are mandated you still
    have truck drivers driving them.
    -ADVOCACY-☜ Radical VC = Car people on bikes. Just say "NO"

  23. #23
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by -=£em in Pa=- View Post
    No matter what safety devices are mandated you still
    have truck drivers driving them.
    Better than having soccer moms driving 'em.

  24. #24
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by -=£em in Pa=- View Post
    No matter what safety devices are mandated you still
    have truck drivers driving them.
    Gee, I wonder what point you are trying to make there, Sidewalk Samurai??

    But then, you're in south Florida, aren't you. Having trucked through there, I can attest to the undisciplined drivers of all vehicles, including bicycles. It's a strange mix of elderly motorists who obey the laws (many shouldn't be driving, I admit), juxtaposed against a youth-culture that has no respect for anyone. South Florida is a nightmare for truckers who are passing through. Downtown L.A. is much better.

  25. #25
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    No offense intended. I guess I was trying to point out that the
    human element will negate any mechanical measures. I shoulda'
    elaborated better. But yes JCM....as I have posted here to the
    point of ponderous redundancy, this is the worst place for angry,
    dangerous drivers I have ever lived. I have really come to dread
    my ride home in the evening.
    -ADVOCACY-☜ Radical VC = Car people on bikes. Just say "NO"

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