Risk Zone: Alongside the Front of My Trailer on My Left Side, Where I Can See You in the Small Convex Mirror Below My Large Left Mirror

Last Edited: April 16, 2017 // by TruckerScape, Inc.

Seeing You

When you’re in the left lane next to mine on the open highway (typically on interstates or major highways with two or more lanes in each direction, in sparse traffic, usually in the countryside) or in heavier traffic, your speed will usually be greater than mine.  As you advance from alongside the rear of my trailer to the trailer midships (middle) section and on to the front of my trailer (even with the trailer headwall and just behind my tractor’s drive wheels), your vehicle’s image leaves my large left mirror, but remains in the small convex mirror below it and also in the small convex mirror over my tractor’s left front fender for secondary use.  Once in the small convex mirrors alone, the image has diminished (stands out less well) within my total mirrored field of vision.

In the event that my speed is greater than yours and I overtake you from behind, you will progress from direct view out my windshield and then out my left side window with an image in the small convex mirror over my tractor’s left fender and finally to a primary image in the small convex mirror below my large left mirror.  At this point your vehicle is alongside the front of my trailer.


The space alongside my trailer extending from the midships (middle) to the front could be called “no man’s land.”  Not only are you less visible there, but the relative distances our vehicles have to travel to enable me to move left into your lane are the greatest of all zones on my left side.  You have to pass me or I have to pass you.  This can cause a critical delay in a lane change emergency.

With my truck’s speed limitation, I am unlikely to get past you in any timely fashion unless you are driving very slowly or brake hard.  So in most situations I will depend on you continuing briskly by me, with me braking as necessary.  Because of these maneuvering limitations, it’s best for you not to settle in this zone.

This zone poses other risks.  True, you are able to see the road ahead of my truck, but you show up less well in my small convex mirrors.  In wet or snowy weather your vehicle may still be hit by water or snow thrown sideways from my truck, which could obscure your view of the road ahead and my view of you.  Your vehicle may be hit by shrapnel thrown sideways from a blowout of a drive tire or even a steer tire.

Your vehicle will be in front of the midships trailer turn signal/emergency flasher light, and that light may or may not be in your mirrored line of sight and the ambient (scattered) light from it is not very noticeable in daylight.  The next light on my tractor’s left side in front of the cab door doesn’t stand out strongly in daylight.  It is generally best to move out of this and other risk zones alongside my truck as soon as it is practical, safe and lawful to do so.

Changing Lanes to My Left

For routine moves to the left for situations such as emergency vehicles or highway maintenance equipment and personnel or other vehicles and people on the right shoulder, I may have to slow way down to get behind you.

In an emergency in the right lane and/or shoulder, I will likely have to depend on you to continue ahead briskly while I brake hard to swerve to the left behind you.  (There may not be time for me to signal and you to notice.)  If you brake really hard I might be able to swerve ahead of you, but this will be more challenging.  First you will have to recognize and react swiftly to the situation, and then I will have to “clear” you (verify that you are behind my trailer tail).  If we can pull it off though, this option gives you a crucial advantage—you will be safely out of my truck’s long slowing/stopping path.


You are in “no man’s land” alongside the front of a trailer because you and the truck driver cannot quickly get out of each other’s way in an emergency.

There are a number of other reasons not to settle in this risk zone, including the possibility that in daylight you may not instantly notice a truck’s turn signal/emergency flasher lights.

As a general rule, move out of this and all other risk zones around a truck as soon as it is practical, safe and lawful to do so.

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