Commercial Vehicle U-Turns

Commercial Motor Vehicle U-Turns

December 04, 2020

U-Turns are too dangerous to safely perform while operating a commercial motor vehicle.

When I lived in Las Vegas, u-turns were permitted for regular 4 wheel vehicles at many intersections throughout the city because they provided access to businesses on the other side of a multi-lane divided city street. Even driving my 2003 Ram pick-up, I noticed the u-turn was a dangerous maneuver due to not having enough room to turn the vehicle around safely, as well as the amount of time it would take to complete the u-turn.

Now, imagine trying to complete a u-turn in a commercial motor vehicle. Compared to a regular 4 wheel vehicle, the size, weight, load, and different types of articulated vehicles with a commercial motor vehicle make the maneuver most often too dangerous to safely perform. This turn is so dangerous that many companies in the trucking industry strictly prohibit their drivers from making u-turns, with very limited exceptions when there is no other option, such as calling law enforcement to come and help by shutting down traffic while the u-turn is being performed.

Crashes are Catastrophic

A car colliding with a commercial motor vehicle trying to execute a u-turn can cause a fatal underride crash. In an underride crash, the first impact occurs when the car’s windshield hits the side of the commercial motor vehicle trailer. This impact often causes fatal head injuries that can even include decapitation. If there is not a fatality, oftentimes there are lifelong traumatic brain injuries that are catastrophic for the driver of the car involved in the crash.

Company Rules

As is discussed on various trucking blogs and message boards, companies such as Werner Enterprises and Swift Transportation make it an immediate terminable offense if a driver executes a U-turn while driving one of their commercial motor vehicles. There are limited exceptions to this rule, but the exceptions often include getting law enforcement involved so they can shut down travel lanes to allow for safe execution of the normally dangerous u-turn. The fact that these big trucking companies immediately fire drivers for making a u-turn even if they are not involved in a crash shows the huge safety concern a u-turn in a commercial motor vehicle poses.


As has been said before on this blog, we have a deep respect for the trucking industry and fully understand that without trucking, most (if not all) of the things we use day-to-day in our houses, work, and personal life would not be available. At the same time, our team has sat in the living rooms of too many families who have endured tremendous loss because a loved one has been killed or catastrophically injured when a truck driver (or more often the company they work for) decided safety was not a priority. Our hope is one day our team never has to visit another family in their home to discuss the death or catastrophic injury of their loved one and that safety ultimately prevails as a top priority. Until then, we understand the importance of taking unsafe behavior to task through a lawsuit to hopefully save the next person and family from a tremendous loss.

This area of the law is highly technical and it is important you have an attorney who understands the huge difference between a regular car crash and one involving a commercial motor vehicle. If you or a loved one has been catastrophically injured or killed in an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle, it is very important you hire an attorney who knows trucking law and regulations. Our personal injury team at SW&L Attorneys understands, knows, and handles all trucking and commercial motor vehicle accidents. To get in touch with our team, call 701-297-2890, or contact us via email today.