How Much Room Does a Semi Need To Turn 90 Degrees?

In light of the frequency of serious accidents involving 18-wheelers, many drivers today are asking the question of just how much room does a semi need to turn 90 degrees? There’s a reason why many semi trucks have a sign that says “Wide Right Turns.” Unlike cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs, semi trucks can’t simply turn 90 degrees in the right-hand lane at an intersection. Instead, they need much more room. 

How much room does a semi need to turn 90 degrees? According to a report published by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), semi trucks need a radius of 30 feet to turn directly left or directly right. Other sources provide similar figures. 

This means that, when making a right turn at an intersection, a semi truck often can’t be in the right lane, but instead may need to be in the next lane over. In other words, the semi truck must make a “wide turn.” 

Understanding the Dangers of Wide Turns for Other Motorists 

Wide turns can present significant risks for other motorists. Most often, these risks arise when a semi truck driver fails to adequately signal that he or she is planning to make a right-hand turn. If a semi truck is in the left lane and planning to turn 90 degrees to the right, other drivers can pull up beside the semi in the right-hand lane not realizing that the semi is about to turn. This is often referred to as being in the “danger zone.” 

When the semi truck driver attempts to make a 90-degree turn, the truck’s trailer will cross over the right-hand lane. If another vehicle is in this lane, the driver of this vehicle will be helpless to avoid a collision. While the semi truck driver should look for other vehicles before turning, these vehicles might be in the driver’s blind spot—meaning that the driver won’t know they are there until it is already too late. 

Due to the height of a semi truck’s trailer above the ground and the trailer’s extraordinary weight (especially if it is fully loaded with cargo), a vehicle that is in the right-hand lane during a wide turn can sustain substantial damage. If the trailer crushes the vehicle’s cabin, this can present substantial injury risks as well. 

How Can (and Should) Semi Trucks Make 90-Degree Turns Safely?

With these risks in mind, how can (and should) semi truck drivers safely make 90-degree turns? While 90-degree turns can pose several risks, there are several ways for truck drivers to avoid these risks as well. For example:

  • Semi truck drivers should always use their signals when preparing to make a 90-degree turn at an intersection. 
  • When a truck driver needs to turn right from the left-hand lane, the driver can start in the right-hand lane and then swing left to prevent other vehicles from entering the “danger zone.” 
  • If the semi will be turning onto a multi-lane road, the truck driver should assess whether he or she can safely turn from the right-hand lane into the middle or left-hand lane of the intersecting road. 
  • Before turning, semi truck drivers should always check for vehicles in the “danger zone.” If the “danger zone” is in a driver’s blind spot, the driver should wait to see if any vehicles start to pass before initiating his or her turn. 
  • When in doubt, semi truck drivers should err on the side of caution. If a driver cannot safely make a 90-degree turn with the amount of room that is available, the driver should continue straight and then find an alternate route.

What if You Get Hit By a Semi Turning 90 Degrees?

While semi truck drivers have several options for avoiding accidents during 90-degree turns, these types of truck accidents are still a regular occurrence on Arkansas’s roads. If you get hit by a semi turning 90 degrees, you have clear legal rights, and you should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. 

Since semi truck drivers can (and should) avoid these accidents, they can be held responsible when they make mistakes that result in significant property damage and serious injuries. Under Arkansas law, companies can be held responsible for their employees’ negligence as well. Since owner-operators and trucking companies both typically have liability insurance to protect themselves in the event of an accident, asserting your legal rights will usually involve working with your lawyer to seek an out-of-court insurance settlement. 

Schedule a FREE Consultation With a Truck Accident Lawyer in Arkansas 

If you need to know more about asserting your legal rights after a truck accident in Arkansas, we encourage you to contact us for a FREE, no-obligation consultation. Our esteemed truck accident lawyers have built a reputation for excellence in handling complex truck accident litigation. We know the complexities of truck accident law and we’re dedicated to helping our clients recover the maximum compensation they deserve after a serious accident.

Contact Oliver Law Firm today online or at 479-202-5200 for a FREE case evaluation. Our experienced truck accident lawyers represent clients across Arkansas and throughout the United States from our office in Rogers, AR.