Charles River Wheelers

Right Turning Trucks: They Are Deadly - Cyclists Please Stay Away

2024-04-30 9:37 AM | Anonymous

By Ron Gluck

Over the last several years our team of attorneys has represented the families of many cyclists killed or critically injured by right turning trucks. Sadly, the incidents leading to the tragic outcomes were preventable. In one of the most publicized cases, which involved the death of 33-year-old physician Anita Kurmann, the right turning truck struck and killed Dr. Kurmann as she was pedaling along the right most side of Massachusetts Avenue at the intersection of Beacon Street near the end of the Mass Ave bridge in Boston. The driver of the truck was not charged in the incident. The point of this article is not to quarrel with decisions made by police departments or District Attorney offices concerning their decisions to charge or not charge the drivers with vehicular homicide. That subject is for another day and time. The point of this article is to remind cyclists of the reality of the dangers of being close to the right side of trucks when those behemoths make their right turns.

In a case on behalf of a family whose loved one was severely injured by a trash collection truck in metro Boston, the truck passed the cyclist who was slowly pedaling to work and then made a right turn even though the cyclist was in the zone of danger. The truck was outfitted with much of the required safety equipment which, if used properly by the driver, would have prevented the catastrophic result from occurring. Tragically the driver failed to make proper use of the mirrors, ran over the cyclist, and then came to a stop with the cyclist stuck under the truck’s front tire. A clear case of horrific truck driver error causing severe and lifelong injuries for the cyclist.

The law in Massachusetts makes it illegal for operators of motorized vehicles including trucks to make a right turn which cuts off the pathway of bicyclists. Perhaps this creates a false sense of safety for cyclists who may feel there is a zone of safety which will not be violated by the right-turning truck driver. Perhaps the cyclist looks at the truck and sees a variety of mirrors which should, when used properly, eliminate the “blind spot” which can put the cyclist at risk. In reality, these safety measures and legal protections should provide NO sense of safety for the cyclist who is approaching the right turn because in order for these measures to protect the cyclist, the truck driver must abide by the law and make proper use of the mirrors. The truck drivers must also be fully alert and vigilant to the presence of cyclists on the roadways as they approach the road onto which they will be making the right turn and there is absolutely no guarantee that the driver will do so. These safety devices and legal protections are only as effective as the driver of the truck makes them. We know that truck drivers are sometimes careless and the consequences for the cyclist and his or her family can be catastrophic. To be safe, cyclists should make every effort to back off and slow down to let the truck pass them where a right turn is approaching. Do not let the fact that you, as the cyclist, have the right of way fool you into thinking that the truck will stop or slow for you. On the contrary, assume instead that the driver will not be careful! Assume that the driver will not notice you as the truck passes you on its way to the right turn ahead. Assume that the truck driver will not make proper use of the mirrors.

​As the cycling season ramps up into high gear, please remember to exercise extreme caution in these” right turn” situations. Let the truck, or even a car, make the turn before you arrive at the point of the right turn.

My best to all of you for an enjoyable and safe riding season.

Ron Gluck

If you have questions about a particular incident or more generally about the subject matter of this column, feel free to contact Ron Gluck at

Ron Gluck is a founder and principal at Breakstone White and Gluck in Boston. Throughout his 35 year legal career Ron has represented seriously injured individuals in a variety of cases including cycling accidents involving catastrophic injury and wrongful death. Ron is a CRW member.


© Charles River Wheelers, a 501(c)3 Organization

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software