A “Fail-to-Look-Spot” Threatens Cyclists’ Safety Near Big Rigs

by Terry Bryant

A January article on the Forbes magazine website highlighted a truck driver in Great Britain who is also a bicycle rider. Contrary to the popular blind-spot argument that is often used when bicyclists are struck by big-rigs, Clive Matthews, the truck driver and bicyclist, asserts that it is a fail-to-look-spot that threatens cyclist safety around large trucks. In the article, Matthews says that cyclists are often blamed for their own deaths when hit by big-rigs because they rode into the vehicles’ blind spots, when, in fact, trucks don’t have blind spots. He goes on to say that the mirrors on trucks are adequate to be able to see bicyclists, but that many truck drivers involved in accidents don’t necessarily take the time to look in all of them.

Demonstrating that Mirrors Work

Matthews demonstrated to the Forbes journalist that when mirrors are used properly, cyclists are visible. He rode a bike around his own truck, which, he pointed out, features the minimum number of mirrors required, including mirrors on each side, wide-angle mirrors, a curb mirror, and a mirror that looks in front of the truck and down to where the driver can’t see. The journalist sat inside looking in the mirrors and reported that he could always see Matthews on the bike.

Dangerous Truck Driving Behaviors

According to Matthews, truckers need to learn to use mirrors correctly and take an extra few seconds to actually use them. He also believes that there are simply some cases where truck drivers need to be more careful about safety, even if they have their blinkers on. One example is when a truck attempts to “outrun” a cyclist so they can make their turn, which involves speeding up to pass a cyclist ahead and essentially putting the bike on the inside of the truck, and then turning in front of the bike.

Tips for Bicyclists & Pedestrians

While there is debate about whether blind spots or truck drivers who fail to adequately look in their mirrors are responsible for accidents with bikes, and the consequent fatalities that often happen, there is no debate that in a collision between a multi-ton big rig and a cyclist, the cyclist is always going to lose. This is also the case for pedestrians.

To stay safe:

  • Don’t ride or walk too close to trucks (or buses). Even if you believe that blind spots are not real, don’t risk your life betting on it. Always assume drivers can’t see you.
  • Don’t ride between a big rig and the curb coming up to an intersection. Stay back – the truck may be turning, even if it doesn’t have a blinker on.
  • Don’t cut closely in front of a large truck. They take much longer to stop.
  • Wear bright clothing and be sure your bike has lights and reflectors. And always stay alert—don’t listen to music or engage in other distracting behaviors.

If you or a family member has had the unfortunate experience of being injured in a bike accident with a large truck, the experienced attorneys at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law can help you understand your options. We are here to help. Call us at 1 (800) 444-5000 or contact us through our online form.