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When Is It Safe for a Truck Driver to Make a U-Turn in Texas?

When Is It Safe for a Truck Driver to Make a U-Turn in Texas?

U-Turns Are Inherently Risky for 18-Wheelers. Here’s Why & How to Avoid a U-Turn Truck Crash

U-turns in big, heavy tractor trailers can be tricky and dangerous, especially in high-traffic areas. Consequently, there are very few situations in which it’s safe to make a U-turn in an 18-wheeler—and many motor carriers have policies prohibiting their truck drivers from making U-turns. Here’s why.

Why Are U-Turns Dangerous for Trucks

Weighing up to 80,000 pounds (fully loaded) and extending up to 75 feet in length, commercial trucks are not zippy, agile vehicles that can be easily maneuvered quickly. Instead, their large, lumbering manner naturally creates some challenges and potential hazards when it comes to U-turns. These can include (and are not limited to):

  • Blocking traffic: Several lanes of traffic, as well as entire roadways, can be blocked when an 18-wheeler driver is making a U-turn. In the best cases, that only blocks traffic and causes backups. In the worst cases, several vehicles can be involved in a crash.
  • Reduced trucker visibility: U-turns are one of the widest turns truckers can make, and 18-wheelers have blind spots on all four sides (the front, the back, the right side, and the left-side). As truck drivers make U-turns, they have no way of seeing what may be in their blind spots, which are constantly shifting when the turn is in progress. That can create a big threat of harm for any motorists or vehicles near the turning tractor trailer.
  • Poor visibility for other motorists: Depending on the time of day, the weather conditions, and the road itself, other drivers may not be able to see a truck making a U-turn until it’s too late to avoid a crash.

What Types of 18-Wheeler Accidents Can Result from U-Turns?

When truckers ignore the risk and choose to make unsafe U-turns, there can be a far greater risk of wrecks, like (but not limited to):

  • Underride truck accidents: If other motorists don’t see a truck making a U-turn, they may fail to stop, and they could become trapped under tractor trailers. These accidents, which tend to occur at night or when trucks lack reflective tape on their sides, can shear off the tops of vehicles, causing catastrophic and deadly injuries.
  • Rear-end truck accidents: Other motorists may rear-end trucks that are in the midst of U-turns, as well as those that have just finished U-turns but have not gotten back up to full speed yet.
  • Pileup 18-wheeler wrecks: Because U-turns are often attempted at intersections, they commonly result in multiple vehicle collisions. In icy, snowy, or low visibility conditions (like during a storm or at nighttime), pileups are far more likely to occur when truckers make U-turns.

What Are Uncontrolled U-Turns?

An uncontrolled U-turn is a U-turn that truckers make without having a spotter to guide the maneuver and help ensure safe completion. In contrast, a controlled U-turn does involve a spotter.

Uncontrolled U-turns should generally not be attempted, and many motor carriers have policies to prevent these risky maneuvers.

Instead of making uncontrolled U-turns, it’s better for drivers without spotters to find another exit, go around the block, or find another way to safely reroute their tractor trailers.

Improving Trucking Policies

Not all motor carriers have policies or training regarding U-turns. While instituting these could reduce the incidence of wrecks, tragically, many only take action after there’s a problem, accident, or disaster.

Without U-turn policies and training, there’s a far greater risk that truckers could engage in dangerous U-turns. When they do and accidents happen, drivers and motor carriers may be liable for the resulting damage.

After an 18-Wheeler U-Turn Accident

If unsafe U-turns end in truck accidents, victims may have the right to file a claim against a negligent driver, company, and/or another party. The best way to determine your options and get important advice about a potential 18-wheeler crash claim is by consulting with an experienced truck accident lawyer.