Lane change crashes pose a clear and present danger to motor carriers. The trucking industry has made commendable efforts to educate the public about avoiding blind spots around large trucks, but because of federal requirements mandating only two rear-vision mirrors on every tractor, it stands to reason that motor carriers should do more to expand the driver's field of view around the truck to help reduce the risk of a critical crash.
In a large truck, the driver's view is limited due to the structure of the vehicle, the configuration of the cab, and the cargo body. This greatly obstructs the view to the rear, even with the required mirrors. Because of these limitations, the driver must rely on indirect vision through side mirrors when changing lanes, backing, turning, and during startups. Adding a convex mirror to the front hood or fender can broaden the driving techniques so that drivers can better manage the space around the truck and avoid a collision.
For these reasons, it is imperative that operations staff take steps to improve the driver's field of view. First, consider the benefits of fender-mounted mirrors and sell the return on investment to upper management. If installing fender-mounted mirrors in the fleet can prevent just one lane change crash, then it would likely pay for itself. Crashes can also be looked at as business interruptions, so every crash avoided, no matter how minor, means the wheels keep turning and earning revenue.
Once management has bought in, and all of the mirrors are installed, focus on training. Start by creating a mirror check station at the terminal. This does not have to be anything fancy or expensive. Designate an area where drivers can pull in to properly adjust their mirrors before leaving on a dispatch. In conjunction with this, train drivers on how to adjust their mirrors while on the road. They will most certainly become misaligned while driving, so teach drivers to check their mirrors and make adjustments when needed. Keep in mind that even with the extra mirrors, blind spots will remain and drivers will still be responsible for managing the space around the truck.
Call to Action
Install fender-mounted mirrors on each tractor
Create a mirror check station
- Train drivers on proper mirror alignment
Reposted with permission from Great West Casualty Company.