The U.S. economy depends on the commercial trucking industry to keep goods moving, so like it or not, that means sharing the highway with hundreds of semi-trucks every time you commute to work or go on a road trip in Virginia. These big rigs pose serious risks to drivers of cars and light trucks due to their size and weight, large blind spots, and the hazardous cargo some of them carry. However, trucking companies are required to warn other drivers of the dangers presented by their rigs with signs, lights, and reflective tape. We explain what some of these warning signs mean to help you stay safe on Virginia's roads and highways.
Reflectors Help You See Trailers
The red and white striped tape you might see at the very bottom and sides of the trailer is used to signal to a motorist that they are coming dangerously close to a large truck. Often, it can be very difficult to see that you are approaching something in the dark until it’s too late. This tape reflects the headlights of a car to notify and warn the driver that the trailer is there and that it is not safe to change lanes. Due to the height of most trailers, a car that runs into a trailer, whether from the side or from behind, can end up underneath it, shearing off the top of the passenger car. Far too many times this ends in a fatal Virginia truck accident. Trucks are supposed to have underride guards, which are also marked with reflective tape, to prevent cars from slipping underneath a trailer, but negligent trucking companies might fail to install and maintain these important safety features.
Other Warning Signs on Semi-Trucks
If you have ever driven behind a commercial semi-truck for more than a minute or two, you have probably noticed other signs and warnings posted on the trailer. Some of these warnings might include:
- Hazardous materials. If a tanker truck is carrying flammable, explosive, or toxic materials, it must have a sign on the trailer warning that it is carrying a hazardous material. These signs are designed with illustrations to be clear about the danger of the material being transported.
- Wide turns. Many semi-trucks have signs indicating that they make wide right turns. This means that the trucker will swing out to the left before making a right turn. The point of the sign is to let drivers know that the truck will follow an unpredicted pattern and should not be passed on the left while turning right.
- Blind spot reminders. It might be a little cryptic, but the warning, "If you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you" is intended to let you know that if you are sitting in the large blind spot around the truck, the driver has no idea you are there. One way to tell if you are in the blind spot is to look for the truck's side mirrors. If you can't see them, you are too close to the truck for the driver to see you.
- Frequent stops. Delivery trucks should have a sign letting other drivers know that they will be stopping frequently. This is so that you will not be surprised when the truck suddenly stops in front of you.
Just because a truck has warning signs on it that doesn't mean that the driver is released from responsibility for your damages if they drive in a careless, reckless, or negligent manner. Warning signs are not get-out-of-jail-free cards! If you were hurt in a crash with a semi-truck in Virginia, you need to talk to a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Call Our Team for Help
An experienced truck accident attorney can communicate on your behalf if you were in a crash with a negligent semi-truck driver. Contact us online or call us at 540-341-0007 to schedule your free consultation. You pay no attorney fees until we win your case.