Making a U-turn is one of the most dangerous maneuvers by any driver on any road. Yet when a U-turn is made by a tractor trailer, the results can be deadly. These turns are a common cause of serious trucking accidents on all types of roads, leaving safety advocates and attorneys questioning if a ban on such maneuvers is needed. Based on the prevalence of U-turn-related semi truck accidents, many believe that making them illegal would improve this scary statistic.
U-Turns and Tractor Trailers Do Not Mix
Anyone who has ever made a legal U-turn in a designated area surely knows they require careful vehicle handling. Drivers need to be overly observant of traffic around them and require a wide, clear area to make the turn. When the same is attempted with a wider, longer, and taller vehicle, everyone on the road can be affected in many ways, such as:
- Lack of Maneuverable Space - Tractor trailers require a much larger area in which to perform safe U-turns, which is not provided on most roads. Yet many drivers attempt them, even on single-lane highways where they must maneuver the truck backwards and forward numerous times in the available space to complete the turn. Unfortunately, it often results in dangerous semi truck accidents.
- Lack of Visibility - When U-turns are performed with large trucks, the driver’s visibility of the surrounding area is dramatically reduced. Drivers lose sight of traffic on both sides of their vehicles, making it impossible to see any obstacle in front of or behind the vehicle. This is a common cause of trucking accidents which includes driving into or over road signs, other vehicles, and even pedestrians. Nighttime U-turns only escalate this problem.
- Blocking Traffic - These maneuvers can block both lanes of traffic due to the size of the truck and its wide turning radius. At the very least, this becomes an inconvenience to other drivers who now must wait for the truck to finish the turn. This sudden and unexpected blockage of traffic can also cause indirect trucking accidents between other vehicles when traffic is forced to come to a sudden stop.
Should Truck U-Turns Be Illegal?
Many safety advocates, commercial carrier companies, lawyers who have dealt with the semi truck accidents that have resulted from U-turns, and even big rig drivers themselves support making semi truck U-turns illegal. While it might be an inconvenience for a driver to have to continue find somewhere to turn around, many agree this is a much better alternative than attempting a U-turn with such a massive vehicle.
Many commercial carriers include in company safety manuals that semi truck drivers are not supposed to make U-turns. Despite this, it is done because the policy is difficult to uphold and the practice is not illegal. Many feel that the issue is also training-related, as drivers are not initially trained to never make U-turns. It seems the only way to ensure compliance with any sort of employee ban is to make the turns illegal altogether.
There is an ongoing fight to improve safety in the commercial carrier industry and reduce the number of trucking accidents. Dangerous tractor trailer U-turns and the semi truck accidents they cause are one of the many concerns that deserve more attention from our lawmakers!
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581