Why You Should Never Pass a Truck on the Right Side

Why You Should Never Pass a Truck on the Right SideDriving on major roads or highways can sometimes be nerve-wracking. There are a ton of cars traveling at fast speeds, and you want to be sure you keep up with traffic while still abiding by all the rules of the road. We all know that the left lane is considered the “passing lane,” meaning that it’s designed for cars driving a bit faster to move into in order to pass another vehicle. Once they pass, they will move back over into the right lane. If someone is actually driving slower in the left lane, occasionally other drivers will pass them on the right instead. However, not only is this dangerous, it is also illegal in many states—especially when it comes to passing large trucks.

Just like in standard cars, commercial trucks have blind spots. We’ve talked before about how dangerous these areas can be, because the blind spots in trucks are significantly larger than those in cars, which makes sharing the road with them that much more dangerous. Plus, trucks need to be maneuvered a little differently in order to do certain things like park and turn. Factoring in their size and the weight they carry, getting into a truck accident could leave you with serious injuries. If you have been injured, be sure to reach out to a truck accident attorney as soon as you can.

Let’s talk about right-side blind spots on trucks

The right-hand side of a large truck is the most dangerous area to be in, which is why it’s so important to never pass them on this side. The blind spot in this area spans from the passenger side door to about half the length of its trailer, and it stretches across two full lanes of traffic. Although trucks generally should not be in the left lane, you should try to avoid passing them on the right because the driver may have no idea that you are even there.

Plus, if you pass a truck on the right in Washington, D.C., you could end up with a traffic ticket. According to the D.C. Municipal Regulations title 18 § 2202, the only time it is legal to pass on the right-hand side is:

  1. When the vehicle overtaken is making or about to make a left turn.
  2. On a street or highway with unobstructed pavement not occupied by parked vehicles and of sufficient width for 2 or more lines of moving vehicles in each direction.
  3. On a one-way street or upon any roadway upon which traffic is restricted to one direction of movement; where the roadway is free from obstructions and of sufficient width for 2 or more lines of moving vehicles.

The standard rule is to keep right and pass on the left. If you do pass a truck, make sure to safely merge back into their lane and give them enough room in front. Directly in front of and underneath the truck’s cabin is another blind spot, and they may not see you move into this area. If you or the truck suddenly need to press the brakes, you’re also not giving them enough space or time to safely slow down.

Trucks may be in the left lane as they’re preparing to turn right

On lesser-traveled roads, you sometimes may see large trucks in the left-hand lane—and this is for a purpose. Trucks are so large that they need to make extremely wide turns. Depending on the road layout, sometimes the only way a truck can effectively make a right-hand turn is to start from the left one.

So if you’re traveling on a road with a truck in the left lane next to you, try to be aware of your surroundings. Did they motion to you that they’ll be taking this turn? Do they have their signal on? When you see a truck in the left lane, your best bet is to drive at a safe distance behind them rather than trying to pass them in the right lane. However, just because they do need to signal this move does not mean they all will.

What kinds of accidents can result from passing a truck on the right?

If an accident involving a car and a large truck does happen, the damage that can be sustained is immense. Because trucks are so much larger than passenger vehicles, they can completely destroy the other car, leaving behind thousands of dollars worth of property damage. Some of the most likely accidents include:

  • Underride crashes, when a vehicle slides underneath the side of an 18-wheeler
  • T-bone collisions where the driver hits the side of the truck
  • Vehicles being run off the road/into another lane as they attempt to avoid being hit by the truck
  • Jackknife accidents if the truck driver tries to stop short upon seeing the driver in his right-hand mirror
  • Multi-car collisions if there are multiple vehicles in the right lane

If a truck driver causes an accident because he or she is negligent, that driver and the trucking company may both be liable. But proving full liability can be a challenge. If you have been injured in a truck accident, it is important to consult with an experienced injury attorney who can help fight for you.

Please contact Paulson & Nace, PLLC through this contact form or by calling our office.