Last week I was driving north on Churton Street in Hillsborough when I saw a hefty delivery truck approaching me from the opposite direction. The driver put on his right-hand turn signal and then proceeded to swing out to his left (in other words, right into MY lane) before making his right hand turn. Fortunately, I saw what he was doing and I wasn’t speeding, so I was able to stop and wait for him, instead of crashing into him.
- A driver making an improper right-hand turn can cause a right turn accident.
- If a truck driver needs to make a wide right turn, the driver needs to keep the vehicle’s wheels as close to the curb as possible and swing wide after starting the turn.
How Truckers Can Negligently Make Wide Turns
There are many times when wide turns can be avoided and the width of the turn can be minimized. Trucking companies train their employees on how to make turns in a way that is safe for them and other drivers on the road.
When wide turns made my truckers cause a crash, it may be due to the truck driver’s negligence in making the turn. Truckers can negligently make wide turns if they:
- Unnecessarily make a wide turn
- Don’t use their turn signals
- Don’t wait for traffic to clear in order to make a safe turn
- Turn/swing into moving, oncoming traffic
- Are driving a route where they are unsure of the types of turns can be made or are unsafe
- Don’t check their blind spots
Trucking Company Negligence and Liability
Trucking companies may also be held negligent or liable when a truck driver gets into a wide turn collision with another motor vehicle. If a trucking company fails to make sure the truck driver has the proper training in making a wide left or right turn before sending them on their route, it may be held liable for resulting collisions.
Specifically, a trucking company can be held liable for negligent training, negligent super vision, or negligent hiring.
Making Safe Right-Hand Turns
This was a large panel truck and not a tractor trailer, so I’m not sure what class of commercial driver’s license the driver held. But instruction in making a safe right-hand turn is part of every commercial driver’s training.
The procedure is described in the NC Commercial Driver License Manual published by the NC Department of Transportation. A driver making an improper right-hand turn can cause what is called a right turn accident. That means either a crash from the front or more often, a crash from the side. Here’s how it works:
Button Hook Versus Jug Handle Turn
If a commercial truck driver needs to make a wide right turn, the driver is supposed to make what is called a “button hook” turn. If you aren’t familiar with a button hook (and who in modern times has seen such a thing) this means the driver is supposed to keep the vehicle’s wheels as close to the curb as possible, and swing wide after starting the turn, not before, so that the vehicle doesn’t veer into the lane for oncoming traffic. What my guy was doing is called an improper “jug handle” turn. The difference is shown here:
Jug handle vs button hook turns. Bikeportland.org. PedalTown Media, Inc. 10.9.10 Web. 18.07.16 http://bikeportland.org/2010/09/10/police-cite-bus-operator-for-unlawful-turn-in-transit-mall-crash-39315
The reason for the button hook vs. the jug handle turn is that if the driver veers left before turning right, drivers behind him are going to think he’s making a left-hand turn, not a right one, and they could get hit in the right lane while they are doing what they are supposed to, which is to keep traffic moving. To say nothing of the fact that the jug handle turn is dangerous for oncoming traffic too.
A Crash from the Past
A while back, I represented a motorcycle driver who was traveling down one of our state roads near Clinton, NC. The motorcyclist was following a tractor-trailer, keeping a safe distance, and then the tractor-trailer eased into a left-hand turn lane. My client thought he saw a left-hand turn signal. He definitely didn’t see a right one, and the truck was in the left turn lane, so he proceeded to pass the truck on the right.
All of a sudden the truck turned right too, so my client’s motorcycle slammed right into the side of the tractor-trailer. Fortunately, my client lived and was eventually able to return to work. The case settled because our expert engineer was able to show that the truck was making an improper wide right turn. Plus, in that case the truck driver’s side view mirror was set improperly so he had a blind spot that prevented him from seeing the motorcyclist.
How We Pursue Compensation for Wide-Right Turn Trucking Collisions
In the event that the truck driver or the trucking company is liable for damages to your or your car, you may be eligible for the following types of compensation:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Wage loss
- Property damage
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
How to Keep Safe
Back to the truck in my town of Hillsborough. It’s true that guy had a tight driveway to get into. So I’m not sure if he had any choice but to swing out in front of me. But it is his job to manage the space in making a turn. Maybe this was a situation where the driver should have made a 90° alley dock. Meaning, just like a car driver, where space is tight it’s often better to back in. With a large truck though, that was going to require a spotter.
Well-trained truck drivers know to contact the shipper or receiver they are dealing with and get specific directions for getting to their destinations and for parking once they get there. After all, truck drivers don’t want to face delays because of unexpected delivery problems. And they don’t want to cause accidents.
And you, dear driver, should keep a lookout! Always be looking all around you, but especially ahead, where a truck driver (or any other driver) could make a wide left turn in front of you. If he’s driving the same direction you are, he could make it seem like you have room to his right when you don’t. If he is driving toward you, he could be blocking your lane as he makes his turn to the right. Stay alert, so you can get to your destination in one piece.