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What is a No-Zone Accident—And How Can They Be Avoided?

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Roadway accidents that involve big commercial trucks tend to be the most serious and often deadly accidents that occur. The reason is simple—commercial vehicles are much bigger than passenger vehicles. Any time they’re in an accident, the sheer size and weight can increase the severity of the collision.

For example, a semi-truck weighs anywhere from 20 to 30 times more than a passenger vehicle.

Because of how big they are, trucks also have more blind spots. A big reason for accidents is that a vehicle is located in the blind spot of a trucker.

An accident that occurs when a trucker hits a vehicle in its blind spot is called a no-zone accident.

The following are some of the key things to know about a no-zone accident, which may hopefully help you avoid being involved in one.

An Overview of a No-Zone Accident

Each vehicle has a blind spot, including passenger vehicles and trucks.

This is the area around a vehicle that’s blocked from the visibility of the driver, especially when the driver is relying on their side-view or rear-view mirrors only.

In some cases, a driver might be able to see a blind spot, but they have to look over their shoulder.

If you’re in a conventional passenger vehicle, a blind spot is usually at the rear sides.

Semi-trucks and big commercial trucks have no zones on all four sides.

These zones include:

  • The front no-zone: This is the length of twenty vehicles in front of a truck. This is from the high seat position of a truck driver, compared to smaller vehicles. When a driver tries to pass a truck and they re-enter the truck’s lane before there’s enough space, it can cause an accident.
  • The right side no-zone: This is the biggest blind spot for a semi-truck. It begins under the right side mirror and behind the cab and then runs along the truck’s right side length. This blind spot extends outward for the width of one to two travel lanes and at least one car length behind the truck’s right side. A semi-truck should usually be in the right lane because it’s going slower than passenger vehicles, and a vehicle could end up on the right side no-zone if a truck is in the left lane.
  • The left side no-zone: This starts under the side mirror and behind the trucks’ cab on the driver’s side. This blind spot is not as big as the right blind spot.
  • The rear no-zone: This goes about 30 feet behind a truck. A commercial truck driver doesn’t have a rearview mirror, and they can’t see traffic for quite a distance behind their trailer. If a car is tailgating a truck, the driver has no way of knowing. Similarly, there’s a risk if the driver is backing up.

To avoid the front no-zone, you should make sure you can fully see a truck’s headlights in your rearview mirror before you re-enter the truck’s lane. You want to make sure there’s always enough space between your vehicle and a truck to stay safe.

To avoid the right side no-zone, don’t try to pass a truck in the right lane, especially since it’s such a big no-zone.

As far as the left side no-zone, always look for a driver’s reflection in their left side-view mirror. If you can’t see the driver’s reflection, it’s likely they can’t see you either.

As far as the rear no-zone, always leave ample space if you’re behind a truck. Never tailgate a truck.

General rules when sharing the road with trucks include just being careful if you’re passing, providing plenty of following distance, and avoiding blind spots as much as possible.

Who’s Liable in a No-Zone Accident?

The same laws that apply when you’re driving a passenger vehicle apply to truck drivers of commercial vehicles.

All states require that when you’re driving, you check for a clear travel lane before you change lanes. You also have to yield to right-of-way when you’re turning or backing up.

In many states, the responsibility for blind spot accidents tends to fall on the shoulders of the driver who didn’t check their blind spots, rather than the vehicle that was in the blind spot.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) describes a blind spot accident or hazard as one in which the driver is in a situation where they should look before completing a maneuver and either doesn’t look or looks but doesn’t see a hazard.

The FMCSA estimates no zones are to blame for around 1/3 of all accidents involving a passenger vehicle and a big truck.

Truck drivers are warned to check their mirrors often.

What If You’re in a No-Zone Accident?

If you or your loved one is in a no-zone accident, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical bills and other associated expenses like lost wages.

If you have a personal injury protection insurance policy, it’s probably the first type of compensation for your injuries. A PIP policy will cover wage losses and medical expenses up to your policy limits, regardless of fault.

If you don’t have PIP coverage, or you have expenses that exceed the limits of your policy, you might need to seek more compensation.

This could require working with an attorney to figure out some elements of the case.

Elements of a no-zone accident involve identifying that the defendant owed you a duty of care. A duty of care is the responsibility we have to others. An attorney would then show that the defendant breached a duty of care.

In a no-zone accident, a truck driver who doesn’t properly survey a lane before entering, for example, could be characterized as breaching their duty of care.

Along with the truck driver, others who could share liability include other drivers and the employer of the truck driver.

If you’ve been involved in a no-zone accident, it could be a good idea to at least consult with an attorney.

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