Caution Zone: Even with the Front of My Tractor on My Right Side, and Two Lanes to the Right of Mine

Last Edited: July 28, 2016 // by TruckerScape, Inc.

Seeing Vehicles Two Lanes to My Right

When your vehicle is even with the front of my tractor (forward of my tractor’s right cab door and even with its right steer wheel and fender) and two lanes to the right of my lane, your vehicle’s image does not show up in my mirrors but I can see your vehicle directly out my right side window.  When preparing to change to the lane next to mine on my right, I will be signaling and checking my tractor’s large mirror, the small convex mirrors and my direct sight lines on my right side for any traffic in that lane.  If that lane is empty I will check for vehicles moving into that lane from the next lane over (your lane) before initiating my lane change.

This second check for vehicle movement from two lanes over to my right is far from perfect.  Once a vehicle two lanes to my right has advanced past the tail of my trailer, it virtually disappears from mirrored and direct view until it is even with my tractor.

Caution zones on my right side are less visible than their counterparts on my left.  Mirror optics are more restrictive–the distance between me and my right side mirrors narrows my field of vision on that side, and darkness further diminishes visual clarity.  My large right mirror and the small convex mirrors mounted below the large mirror and on my tractor’s right fender are aimed back along the sides of my tractor and trailer at the lane next to mine on my right, and their fields of vision out to their sides are limited.  Thus my mirror views of vehicles two lanes to my right are not as good as my mirror views of vehicles in the right lane next to mine.

At night or in other dim conditions, headlight reflections on the outer rims of my small convex mirrors and ambient light may alert me more readily to a vehicle in the right side blind area that I may be able to confirm by leaning backward and forward and side to side to alter my mirror sight lines.  However I prefer to wait to see if the vehicle will pull forward where it is more visible.  Once even with my tractor and in front of it, vehicles appear in my direct lines of sight out my right side window and windshield.  These direct (non-mirror) views of vehicles two lanes to my right are actually better than those one lane to my right, where at certain points smaller vehicles may be largely or completely hidden from me.

As a general rule it is safest to assume that when your vehicle is two lanes to the right of my lane, it is not visible to me until it is even with, or in front of my tractor.  One other important non-mirror detail:  I have a broader direct view out the left side of my cab (tractor) than out the right side.

When You and I Change Lanes

If you pull even with the front of my tractor (forward of my tractor’s right cab door and even with its right steer wheel and fender) before moving one lane to your left, I’ll be able to see your move directly out my right side window if I’m looking in your direction or via peripheral vision if I’m looking straight ahead.  If I’m looking elsewhere for a few seconds, I may or may not glimpse your move in my peripheral vision, which is more limited out my right side window than out my left.  You should remain vigilant as you move toward my tractor, regardless of how soon I seem to notice you.

Once you’re in the right lane next to mine, you’re in one of the riskiest zones around my truck.  I have a limited direct view of your vehicle below the level of the side window because so much of my tractor’s interior and hood is in the way.  I may be able to see the top of your vehicle if it is a standard or large size sedan, SUV or pickup.  But if you’re driving a sports car or other low, small vehicle it virtually disappears from direct view.  The small convex mirror on my tractor’s right fender shows only a portion of your vehicle.

I’ll know you’re there if I’ve seen your lane change, and in some other instances I can just sense your presence.  In congested city traffic you may be trapped beside me, but in that case we’re usually driving more slowly and I will probably have noticed you.  (See the Risk Zone:  Alongside the Front of My Tractor on My Right Side, Where You Do Not Show Up Well Directly out My Right Side Window or in the Convex Mirror on My Tractor’s Right Front Fender tip).

I’ll be waiting for you to advance (hopefully briskly) out of this risk zone and through the final zone in front of my truck (see the Risk Zone:  Close in Front of My Truck and in the Right Lane Next to Mine and the Risk Zone:  Close and Directly in Front of My Truck tips).  I advise personal vehicle drivers to pass my truck whenever it is practical, safe and lawful to do so.

As you move forward, visibility becomes worse momentarily when the front of your vehicle draws even with, or a little forward of the front of my tractor.  At night or in other dim conditions your headlights no longer show in the small convex mirror on my tractor’s right fender, and your taillights may be hidden from direct view.  Only a small part of your vehicle appears in the outer rim of the fender mirror and that fragment does not stand out in the darkened mirror reflection.

(Full Disclosure:  At 5 feet 8 inches tall, my lines of sight out my tractor’s right side window and across the interior and hood may be slightly more restricted than those of taller drivers.  However, I set my seat back almost perpendicular so I sit upright and slide my seat forward relatively close to the pedals and steering wheel.  Other (especially taller) drivers prefer a more reclined position with their seat back tilted rearward and the seat itself slid farther away from the pedals and steering wheel for more leg and arm room.  In that position, their lines of sight are probably not so much different from mine.)

Once your vehicle is safely out in front of my truck, I will prepare to change to the lane next to mine on my right, signaling and checking my large mirror, the small convex mirrors and my direct sight lines on my right side for any traffic in that lane and then checking for vehicles moving into that lane from the next lane over.

If I begin to change lanes to my right at the same time as your move to your left from even with the front of my tractor, I should be able to see your turn signal and cancel my move.  If it seems that I am not deferring to you, you should cancel your move to avoid a possible collision.  There is a good chance I’ll hear your horn, but you should not rely on it to head me off (see the Hearing tip in the Truck Handling Characteristics and Limitations chapter).

If you defer to me, you will wind up alongside the front of my tractor but obviously not in the lane you want (see the Risk Zone:  Alongside the Front of My Tractor on My Right Side, Where You Do Not Show Up Well Directly out My Right Side Window or in the Convex Mirror on My Tractor’s Right Front Fender tip).  I’ll be keeping track of you and again expecting you to advance (hopefully briskly) out of this risk zone and through the final zone in front of my truck (see the Risk Zone:  Close in Front of My Truck and in the Right Lane Next to Mine and the Risk Zone:  Close and Directly in Front of My Truck tips).

Another clearing option is for you to move one lane to your right, returning to two lanes to the right of my lane.  If you stay even with the front of my tractor (forward of my tractor’s right cab door and even with its right steer wheel and fender), I will see your vehicle directly out my right side window.  I will be free to move to the lane to my right, other traffic permitting.

Once I’ve completed my lane change to get alongside your vehicle on my right side, you will again be in a high risk zone where your vehicle may be partly or totally out of my direct view.  Since only a portion of your vehicle’s image will show up in the small convex mirror on my tractor’s right front fender, its image will have diminished significantly (will be standing out less well) within my total mirrored field of vision (See the Risk Zone:  Alongside the Front of My Tractor on My Right Side, Where You Do Not Show Up Well Directly out My Right Side Window or in the Convex Mirror on My Tractor’s Right Front Fender tip).

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