Left Hand Turn


DATE: 11/30/2009


REFERENCE: FMCSA Driver Training – "Inadequate Surveillance"


How the Incident Occurred

Pulling an unloaded low-boy trailer, a semi driver slowed to a stop on a two lane nondivided rural highway and prepared to turn left into the entrance of his loading site. It was daytime, clear weather and dry road conditions. The left front and rear turn signals were operating while he waited to make his turn. Using extra caution due to his awareness that the turn was below the crest of a nearby hill, he began his maneuver across the highway as quickly as possible. As he entered the driveway, he checked his right rear view mirror and, to his disbelief, he witnessed a small car crest the hill and collide with the right rear of his trailer.

Injury/Damage Information

As a result of the collision, the driver was killed and the car was totaled. There was little if any damage to the trailer.

Causative factors

  • This was a known dangerous left turn due to the steep hill that was immediately south of the turn.
  • Small cars are difficult to see and can easily be hidden behind terrain features or other vehicles
  • There were no skid marks indicating that the car did not see the unloaded, low profile trailer until he was too close to react and avoid the collision.
  • Automobiles, particularly sub-compacts, have a limited "look ahead capacity" as the driver’s eye height is much lower to the ground than that of other drivers.

Remedial actions

  • Company safety programs should address particular hazards that are encountered such as turning on limited visibility highways, pedestrians, small vehicles, etc.
  • As part of the company’s ongoing driver safety training, encourage the drivers to identify unsafe conditions and address the problem from a company policy perspective
  • Be aware of how even slight operational changes may affect safety. For example, loaded and unloaded equipment can have different visibility.