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Efforts Underway to Reduce Truck Blind Spots and Accidents

One of the biggest concerns for motorcyclists while traveling anywhere near a tractor-trailer or commercial truck is the possibility that the truck driver will not see the motorcycle.The National Transportation Safety Board recently released a report asking the National Highway Safety Administration to target blind spot mitigation in commercial trucks, especially in those cases where blind spots significantly impact motorcyclists and cyclists.
It’s not difficult to understand why motorcyclists and cyclists may be so easy to miss for a truck driver.A truck driver has several blind spots that exist behind and around their rig and trailer, and any vehicle that is in one of these blind spots may not be easily visible to the truck driver.Those visibility difficulties become even more pronounced in the case of a motorcycle or bicycle because of the narrow frames of these vehicles.

When a truck driver is not able to identify a motorcycle in his blind spot, he is at risk of colliding with it and causing serious injury or death.While the occupants of a car have some amount of protection in the form of seatbelts, airbags and the frame of the vehicle to protect them from serious injuries in a truck accident, motorcyclists have no such luxury.They are extremely vulnerable to the high risk of injuries in an accident with a commercial truck, and it is these risks that the National Transportation Safety Board wants to target.

The National Transportation Safety Board based its findings on data analysis from five states that used hospital records as well as police reports.The data were analyzed, and the Board found that the fatality rate involving vulnerable road users like pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists was significantly high.In the case of motorcyclists, there was a fatality rate of 119.5 for every 1,000 accidents.

There are even more significant risks when pedestrians are in a truck driver’s blind spot.In fact, in many cases, the NTSB analysis found that the truck driver did not even realize that he had struck a pedestrian until later.The National Transportation Safety Board found a total of 759 pedestrian and 181 cyclist fatalities between 2005 and 2009 in accidents involving tractor-trailers.

Pedestrians are much more likely to be struck while they’re trying to cross the road in front of a tractor-trailer, while bicyclists are much more likely to be struck when they are riding on the right side of the roadway.Therefore, the data analysis found that the most common impact location for bicyclist deaths was the truck’s right side; accounting for 40% of all fatalities, while in the case of pedestrians, 60% of all fatalities involved a collision with the front of the tractor-trailer.The Board recommends that truck drivers use their mirrors more responsibly, and also implement newer technologies like crossover convex mirrors to identify vulnerable road users in their blind spots.