Right Turning Trucks and Preventing Cyclist Accidents
The battle between a truck driver and bicyclist rarely turns out well for the biker. The battle of the right-hand biker lane and the rights of right turning trucks has been a hot topic in many states. While there may be debate on who has the right-of-way, there is no arguing that bicyclists aren’t going anywhere, so sharing the road and learning the law is an effort all drivers can make to help save lives.
More than 860,000 Americans bike regularly, according to the latest Census Bureau estimates. That creates nearly one million more moving elements for truck drivers to be aware of while driving. Statistics show pedal-cyclist fatalities increasing by 12.2% from 2014 to 2015, to 818 reported deaths. There were 4,067 fatalities in crashes involving large trucks, with a 4.1% increase in fatalities reported in 2015 over the previous year. That’s the highest since 2008. Of the 4,067 fatalities, 10.1% were non-occupants of a vehicle. It’s not only critical for truck drivers to be aware of other travelers, both in vehicles and on pedal bikes, but it’s crucial to know how the right-hand bike lane works by understanding the law, remembering basic safety tips when turning right, and equipping their truck to avoid blind spots.
Right Turning Trucks – Know The Law
States have different laws when it comes to truck drivers, bicyclists and who has the right-of-way. Take Oregon for example: State law clearly grants a right-of-way that allows for bicyclists to enter bike lanes, and determines which vehicles can use them. Truck drivers who cover one state or a region, can easily familiarize themselves with state bike laws. However, for drivers who cover a lot of ground, it would be nearly impossible to know each state’s individual law, so practicing basic biker-friendly driving will help save lives.
Truckers & Bicyclists Share The Road
The blind spot for truck drivers can be one of the most deadly, specifically when it comes to right-hand turns. Truck drivers and cyclists prevent crashes by looking out for each other and behaving responsibly.
Blind Spot & Intersection Tips For Truck Drivers:
- Signal turn well in advance. It’s difficult for bicyclists to see a truck’s blinkers, so drivers should allow cyclists plenty of time before the turn.
- Truck drivers should be mindful of cyclists, even if the turn is in the distance, or there is no planned turn. Drivers who are aware of their surroundings should be in the habit of looking for bicyclists at intersections and before right-hand turns.
- A trucker who passes a cyclist should assume the biker is still on the right side, and should allow the cyclists extra time to get around the truck before taking a turn. If the trucker can’t see the cyclists – it’s safe to assume they’re in the blind spot.
- Cyclists will not accurately interpret the truck driver’s move when they swing out wide to make a right-hand turn. Truck drivers should be the mind for themselves and the biker.
Equipment For The Truck
Truck drivers must think ahead when it comes to keeping themselves and bicyclists safe on roads. Being mindful of cyclists on the road is a large part of that safety plan, but there are parts that can be added to the rig that will help drivers be aware of an otherwise unexpected biker. Here are safety tips and products for right turning trucks:
- Truck under-run side protection: Truckers can install the protective side bars to the truck to help prevent cyclists (and small cars) from sliding under the side of the truck.
- Fresnel lens: By installing a Fresnel lens on the passenger side window, truck drivers can see a downwards view so that at a glance the driver can see a cyclist who may be hidden in the mirror blind spot.