What Is the "No-Zone" of a Truck?
The Dangers of No-Zones in Commercial Trucks
In driver’s education lessons, instructor tell the class about vehicular blind spots. For passenger vehicles, blind spots are the areas of the road where the driver cannot see when using car mirrors. Passenger vehicle operators are required by law to look over their shoulder before making a lane change to combat these blind spots.
However, while this technique is useful for car drivers, commercial truckers do not have the same luxury. That is because commercial truck blind spots are called “no-zones.” These are areas around a truck where the operator cannot see a vehicle no matter what they do. There is no “over the shoulder technique.” Their mirrors do not have extensions that allow them to look out the side of the cab. They're essentially driving blind. That is why commercial truck blind spots are called no-zones—because there is no way a truck driver can see you if you are sitting in one.
To publicize the dangers of blind spots, the FMCSA began the "No-Zone" or "Share the Road" Program in 1994. This program was designed to increase awareness about these no-zones, which are the truck's major blind spots or areas around the trucks where other vehicles "disappear."
The Four Major No-Zones
Staying safe on the road is important. One of the best ways to avoid getting into an accident is to stay out of other driver’s blind spots. When you are around truck drivers, it is even more important to stay out of blind spots, or “no-zones” for truckers. Since commercial trucks and other vehicles are much larger than regular passenger vehicles, the visibility these drivers have is more limited. That is why you need to know the four major “no-zones” for trucks.
Trucks have four no-zones altogether, each with individual specifications:
- Within 30 feet behind the truck
- Within 20 feet in front of the truck
- One lane on the left side of a truck, near the cab
- Two lanes to the right of the truck, starting at the cab and slanting diagonally
For more details, these are the four major no-zones:
- Right Side No-Zone: As the largest truck blind spot, it is crucial that drivers avoid passing on the right side. If you can’t see the truck driver in his side mirror, it is safe to say he or she can’t see you either. If you have to pass, make sure you pass on the left side. Try to avoid driving alongside a truck on the right side, even on large-lane highways, as they have practically no visibility.
- Left Side No-Zone: Similar to the right side, it is best to avoid driving alongside a semi-truck other than for passing. When you do need to pass a truck driver, do so as quickly as possible so that you get back into their visibility range. While the driver has a little more visibility on the left side compared to the right side, it’s still best to stay away from this smaller no-zone.
- Rear No-Zone: Tailgating is bad driver behavior with any vehicle, but can be especially dangerous with trucks where the truck driver cannot see your car behind them. Keep in mind that truckers do not have the benefit of a rear-view mirror as the trailer blocks it; instead, they have to rely on side-view mirrors.
- Front No-Zone: Though it can be frustrating being stuck behind a slow moving truck, make sure you don’t cut a large semi-truck off. It is much more difficult for a large truck to slow down; in fact, many of them need twice as long as a regular passenger vehicle. If you don’t leave enough room, it may cause a serious accident. As a general rule, you should aim to allow at least 1 car length per 10 mph you’re traveling (60 mph would equal 6 lengths). Never cut in front of a truck and immediately slow down. Again, getting a large truck to stop can require much more distance than your typical passenger car.
Staying Alert for Wide Right Turns
Making a right turn in an 18-wheeler involves different mechanics than usual. To accomplish it, truckers have to make an excessively wide turn. They will swing out wide toward the left in order to complete the right turn. When they do this, a truck driver can’t see if a car is squeezing between them and the curb. That means if you notice a driver performing this maneuver, you should avoid trying to go on their right side. They best way to tell if a truck driver is swinging out for a wide right turn is keeping an eye out for their signal blinkers. Once you notice they’re making a turn, just remain patient and give them enough room to make it without putting yourself in danger.