The Dangers of Swinging Turns

Automobile Safety 

Tractor Trailer Making A Swinging Turn

What’s a swinging turn…

Well.. Let me break it down for you. 

Tractor trailers and other vehicles with longer wheelbases, such as buses can’t approach turns like an average sized passenger vehicle. To compensate for their longer wheelbase, these vehicles often have to perform a type of maneuver called a ‘ swinging turn ‘ in order to complete these turns safely and correctly. The way they do this is by turning in one direction, to allow for more room, before turning in the opposite, intended, direction.

The Catch. 

It can’t possibly be that simple, right? There’s always a catch. For these maneuvers to be performed safely, caution has to be used by everyone on the roads, not only the tractor trailer and bus drivers but the drivers around them. Just one distraction or miscalculation can result in not only property damage but personal injury ( physical and/or emotional / psychological ), or worse… death. 

What could go wrong and how do we prevent it? 

Even though there are things that could go wrong, for every thing that can cause these types of accidents there’s something that can be done to prevent them from even happening in the first place. Let’s talk about those things. 

Common Causes of Swinging Turn Accidents & How To Prevent Them

  • Blind Spots – even though we would like to be able to always put the blame on the other party, don’t put your safety and well being in the hands of someone who might not even be paying attention. As a truck driver, maintain awareness of your surroundings and your blind spots. Also keep in mind that your average driver might not even know where all your blind spots are, let alone how to stay out of them. & for all the other average drivers on the road, do your best to learn and be aware of a tractor trailer or bus’ blind spots. Remember, If they can’t see you how are they supposed to avoid you?
  • Miscalculations, distractions, or unfamiliarity with the route route or area – People are creatures of habit and sometimes that can lead us to assume that the world around us is too. We’ll assume that every curve is the same, or that our brakes will always perform the same way they did the last time we used them, or that we can approach corners or traffic conditions the same way we’ve approach similar conditions. In a perfect world that would most definitely be the case. But … it’s not a perfect world that we live in , so we have to adjust and adapt constantly to the different road and traffic conditions that surround and await us. The best way to do this is by approaching every route, turn, and vehicle as if it were your first time in that situation; with caution, focus and respect. 
    • Drive at appropriate speeds, especially when maneuvering a swinging turn or driving around a vehicle making a swinging turn. Driving at appropriate speed helps ensure that everyone one the roads has enough time to react accordingly to everyone else’s actions. 
    • Focus. Don’t let yourself get distracted by phones, people, changing radio stations, or even looking at the GPS at inappropriate times. One split second is all it takes to completely change the lives of you or those around you. & by ‘changing their lives’, I’m not talking about winning a million dollars by playing the lottery . 
    • Use better judgement. Don’t make decisions in the moment that could change your life permanently. Don’t do things like cut off other drivers around you, follow too close for anyone to react quick enough, & never try to squeeze in a space too small for you fit in safely. Cars – Don’t try to squeeze into a lane while a truck is attempting a swinging turn, just because you have room in that second doesn’t mean that you will as they continue to maneuver around the turn. 

Although this article alone won’t prevent all truck accidents, hopefully it’ll be helpful in keeping you a little better informed on how to handle and prevents those swinging turn accidents. 

If you’re wondering about other different types of tractor trailer and truck accidents and how to prevent them, here’s another article.