Are there special rules of the road for tractor-trailer units?

  • All drivers have a duty to take reasonable care to avoid collisions
  • For drivers of tractor-trailer units, this duty may require the installation of special mirrors to eliminate blind spots and “setting up” for turns in a way that minimizes the risk of harm to other users of the road

In Lemay v. James Western Star Sterling Ltd. a large tractor-trailer unit was stopped at a light waiting to turn left.  A motorcyclist came up from behind and stopped two feet to the right on the wide roadway.  She was intending to go straight through the intersection.  When the light turned green the trucker moved his rig to the right and hit the motorcyclist.  He never saw the motorcyclist as she was in his blind spot.

The judge decided that the trucker was mostly to blame.  He should have eliminated his blind spot by installing a special “third eye” mirror or by cleaning the small window in the lower passenger’s door.  In addition, the trucker did not set up his wide left turn in accordance with standard practice.  He should have initially signaled to the right and hogged the middle of the road prior to signalling his left turn.  He was unduly focused on another vehicle blocking the intersection.  The trucker was 80% at fault.

The motorcyclist was 20% at fault for positioning her bike within two feet of the truck.  There was plenty of room, and she could have stopped much further away.  Of note, the judge rejected the argument that the motorcyclist should not have passed the truck on its right side.  All the vehicles she passed had their left signal lights on, and there was plenty of room along the right side of the roadway.

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Read the case:  Lemay v. James Western Star Sterling Ltd.