When is it Safe for a Truck Driver to Make a U-turn?

Blue semi-truck makes a left-turn on a narrow road 

We receive a wide range of questions related to trucking accidents on a daily basis. One of the questions we get asked quite frequently by lawyers, truck driver safety advocates, and other people is, “When is it safe for a truck driver to make a U-turn?” This article will explain in detail the rules regarding semi-truck U-turns and how best to think of them. 

THE RULE: No Uncontrolled U-Turns

The number one rule about trucks and U-turns is NO uncontrolled U-turns. This is a simple truck driver safety rule that all trucking companies should institute and train their drivers on. For the purpose of truck U-turns, “controlled” means that the driver has a spotter guiding them through the maneuver, and is absolutely sure that the U-turn can be started and finished in complete safety. 

Unless these controlled conditions are present, commercial truck U-turns should be avoided at all costs. Realistically speaking, such conditions won’t be available in most instances. The driver should find an alternative solution to a U-turn, such as planning an alternate route with a different exit or approach. 

Why Are Truck U-Turns Dangerous?

There are several reasons why truck U-turns are dangerous. The main reason, plain and simple, is time. It just takes too long for a massive semi-truck to fully complete a U-turn. It takes a long time, often 15-17 seconds, even just for a truck to make a left turn

A U-turn would take even longer and can involve greater risk for the driver to get “stuck” at any one point. Traffic lights can change, and additional cars can appear on the road while the U-turn is being made. 

More reasons why a U-turn is unsafe for large commercial trucks are: 

  • At the beginning of their turn, there is usually no way for the driver to tell if they have enough time to finish the U-turn. Cars that aren’t in sight yet will reach the truck before the maneuver can be completed. 
  • Even main roads are usually not wide enough to accommodate a truck U-turn; the driver will usually have to make several attempts and adjustments.
  • Many drivers operate “solo” and won’t have another person to spot them during the U-turn.
  • When the U-turn is finally completed, it will then take additional time for the truck to pick up speed, so they’re no longer a hazard to other drivers. 

In short, U-turns are by definition an unsafe practice for commercial truck drivers. They should be avoided at all costs and especially at night or during bad weather. 

Attorney Joe Fried Discusses the Dangers of Truck U-Turns

Improving Trucking Policies

Due to the dangerous nature of U-turns, trucking companies should instruct their drivers to avoid performing them. Many companies already have such policies and training guidelines in place; however, if a company doesn’t, they should implement these changes as soon as possible. 

If assistance is needed with such policy language, Fried Goldberg is highly familiar with such truck driver safety measures and can provide assistance for companies who need to adjust their operating procedures. Contact a truck accident lawyer at (877) 591-1801 for more information.

Why Are Trucking Accidents a Serious Issue?

Trucking accidents can lead to severe, catastrophic injuries due to several factors, including: 

  • The size and weight discrepancy compared to smaller passenger vehicles mean trucks can cause much more major damage than cars. 
  • Tractor-trailers can block an entire road (as is the case with a U-turn, jackknife, or wide turn situation).
  • Truck accidents can cause highway delays, leading to pile-ups and multiple car crashes, especially during snowy conditions.
  • Certain trucks may be carrying hazardous or toxic materials, rocks, or other cargo that can spill onto the road, causing further risks.

Thus, trucking accident injuries can be serious and may include neck and spine injuries, traumatic brain injury, broken bones, and, in many instances, fatalities.  

What to Do if You’ve Been Injured by a Truck U-Turn

If you’ve been injured due to a truck driver making a U-turn, you should take the following steps: 

  • Seek assistance immediately. Contact the police and emergency responders.
  • Take photos and videos of the scene and gather important documents.
  • Visit a doctor for medical treatment. Doing so can help create records that might be used during litigation.
  • Contact a lawyer, who can help you gather evidence for your claim. 

Taking these steps will not only ensure that you get the treatment and medical attention you need but will also help lay the foundation of your case in the event legal action becomes necessary. 

Get In Touch with a Trucking Accident Lawyer

Dangerous truck operations like U-turns can cause major and often deadly road accidents. If you or a loved one have been injured due to a truck driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to a legal remedy. Damages in a truck accident lawsuit can cover expenses like medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.

At Fried Goldberg, we fight zealously to ensure truck accident victims obtain the compensation they deserve. With over 100 years of combined experience, our lawyers have represented clients or co-counseled and instructed other lawyers in trucking litigation in all 50 states. We have recovered a total of nearly $1 billion for our clients in the state of Georgia alone. 

Get in touch with us at (877) 591-1801 for a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your case. Taking action is the first step toward regaining your life after an accident. 

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