It’s not always the bus (or truck) driver’s fault

Creating awareness for the driver’s blind spot


Every now and then, we come across news reports of motorcycles and cars getting hit by buses and trucks, resulting in severe injury and oftentimes death.

Motorcycle riders and car drivers falsely assume that since bus or truck drivers sit higher—and the fact that they have larger side mirrors, they should be able to see the road better.

But while bus and truck drivers do have better forward view and bigger mirrors, they still have serious blind spots where the driver can’t see—or difficult to see—those most dangerous spots to be in.

“These blind spot areas include the area directly behind the bus or truck that includes the truck’s lane, the one directly in front that includes the bus’ or truck’s lane, and one lane to the right, and the one on either side of the vehicle that can extend across several lanes—especially on the right side of the driver (on left hand drive countries like the Philippines). Staying in these blind spots means that the bus or truck driver cannot see you or your small vehicle, posing a huge safety risk and potentially leading to a serious accident or death,” reminds Joel Agcaoili, Hino Motor Philippines Corp. Technical Service Training section supervisor.

He says that no matter how carefully a driver adjusts mirrors on such a large vehicle, that person won’t be able to get past the presence of blind spots.

Blind spots to the sides and rear are inevitable. Even passenger vehicles have blind spots if the mirrors are not adjusted properly, or if the vehicle is a larger-than-average in size.

Don’t gamble

Agcaoili adds that motorists should remember that a bus or truck will need to approach a right turn from a position that is pretty far to the left.

These big vehicles need such a wide berth to make turns, and thus, sometimes require an extra lane.

“For some motorcycle riders and drivers of tiny cars, it can be tempting to slip into a big gap between the truck and the curb. Don’t do it. The bus and truck driver cannot see you at all, and you risk being side-swiped by a vehicle that may weigh as much as 5 to 8 tons,” Agcaoili said.

The same principle also applies to those driving behind the bus or truck. Do not follow closely as it is never a good idea to tailgate.

“A big bus or truck driver cannot see your vehicle when you are directly behind it. Of course, as you get so close, you also won’t see what’s ahead, making it virtually impossible to anticipate anything in the road that might cause the bus or truck driver to suddenly brake,” added Agcaoili.

For these reasons, motorists should give themselves about 5-seconds following distance behind a bus or truck, or about 20 to 25 car lengths.

If the weather is poor, give yourself even more space.

Pass with care

Pass a bus or truck with care. Remember, that city and provincial buses and 18-wheelers have huge blind spots alongside their vehicles that can extend a few lanes.

To stay safe as you pass:

Make sure you can see the bus’ or truck’s side mirrors. If you can’t see the driver in their side mirror, it is likely that they can’t see you either.

Not being able to see the side mirrors indicates you are in a blind spot and should move out of that position as soon it is safe to do so.

Signal early, honk only if necessary.

Pass quickly to stay out of the bus or truck’s side blind spots.

If you cannot pass a bus or truck quickly, fall back a little so that you can be seen again.

Some vehicles, especially smaller cars and motorcycles, may experience some turbulence when moving from behind a truck.

Don’t cut between the bus or truck and the curb, and be aware that big vehicles cannot slow down as quickly as smaller ones.

Agcaoili adds that even if bus and truck drivers cannot avoid blind spots altogether, they should still learn how to properly adjust their mirrors to limit blind spots as much as possible.

“Checking the mirrors every five to eight seconds will help know what is coming into the blind spot before it arrives there. Finally, when these drivers need to make a lane change, they need to double check those blind spots, even turning to check them, and signaling well before making the change, to alert other drivers of the intended move.”

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