A U-turn on a public roadway is one of the most dangerous maneuvers that a commercial driver can perform in a tractor trailer. In fact, the dangers of tractor trailers making U-turns are so well documented most truck companies prohibit their drivers from making them on public roadways. When a truck driver decides to make such a U-turn on a public roadway, that driver puts all the motoring public at risk.
The Inherent Risks of Tractor Trailers Making U-turns
There are three main reasons why making U-turns in big trucks is so dangerous:
A lack of sufficient visibility for the driver:
Given the width, length and height of the big rigs, they have so many blind spots — it’s just not possible for drivers to turn their truck around safely on their own as they cannot possibly see all the dangers around them.
Insufficient lighting or high visibility markings:
Most tractor trailers on the roads today simply do not have adequate markings to make them conspicuous enough for other motorists to see them with enough time to slow down or avoid.
Traffic lane blockage:
The average truck takes at least 40 seconds to complete a U-turn which means the trailer is blocking most, if not all, the lanes of traffic for close to a minute. That’s a long time to expose other drivers to the dangers those poorly marked trailers pose.
The dangers are dramatically increased when truck drivers perform U-turns on the road at night. In many cases, passenger vehicle drivers don’t see the truck or trailer until two seconds before they come up on it. This lack of visibility means that even at lower speeds, drivers will collide with the unmarked and difficult to see trailer blocking their lane of traffic. Certainly, a tragic accident in New Jersey earlier this year made this point quite poignantly.
Illegal U-Turns: A Training Issue
Given how dangerous U-turns are for big trucks, most trucking companies have policies that prohibit them. The industry standard calls for either prohibiting U-turns as a matter of company policy or, alternatively, providing training to drivers on how to perform these dangerous maneuvers. Thus, if a truck company does not have a manual prohibiting drivers from performing U-turns, and does not providing training on how to safely perform a U-turn, then that company is grossly negligent.