If you''ll be hitting the highway in a passenger vehicle, Roadway Express Inc. wants you to know how to share the road with trucks. Your life could depend on it.
According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the automobile driver does not survive in four of every five fatal car-truck collisions. And according to DOT data, 74 percent of these accidents are initiated by the car driver.
"As a motor carrier dedicated to highway safety, Roadway Express spearheads an active outreach effort that promotes awareness and educates all motorists, both car and truck drivers, on ways to safely share the road," said Dennis McMickens, director of safety for the carrier. "Our aim is to enlist every driver we reach in a life-saving partnership founded on mutual respect and thorough knowledge of prudent driving habits. We''re working to fill that knowledge gap because, if you break a road-sharing rule near a truck, you may not have a lifetime to regret it."
According to Roadway Express, one prudent habit that car drivers can adopt is to avoid the "No Zone": the blind spots around large vehicles such as trucks where crashes are more likely to occur.
The No Zones are blind spots in front of, beside and behind the truck, where the truck driver cannot see other vehicles. This limited field of vision restricts a driver''s ability to stop or change lanes safely.
According to DOT, some 35 percent of truck-related car deaths occur in the blind spots around trucks.
Based on its experience with the No Zone campaign, Roadway Express offers car drivers the following road-sharing tips for safe summer driving:
- Pass promptly. Trucks have very large blind spots on both sides, which means the driver has no way of seeing you if you linger beside a truck for any length of time. Pass quickly, and always pass on the left. The right blind spot is much larger and, therefore, much riskier. If you can''t see the truck driver''s face in his mirrors, he can''t see you.
- Never cut off a truck. If you pull in front of a truck too soon after passing, and then slow down, you''re courting disaster. Most trucks need the length of a football field to stop. Be sure you can see the entire front of the truck in your rear-view mirror before you pull in front -- and keep moving.
- Don''t tailgate. This general rule of the road is especially applicable with trucks, which have huge No Zones in the rear. The driver can''t see your car, and your own view is severely obscured. If the truck driver brakes suddenly, you could be involved in a rear-end collision. When following a truck, if you can''t see his mirrors, he can''t see you.
- Allow for wide turns. Truck drivers often must swing wide to the left to make a safe right turn. They need plenty of space to the side and the rear. Give them room, and never try to squeeze between the curb and a truck making a right-hand turn.
- Be cool and stay focused. Impatience and inattentiveness have triggered many accidents. It''s all the more critical to stick to the speed limit and keep your temper in check when you''re driving near trucks. The margin for error is slim, and the consequences can be dire.
by Virginia Sutcliffe