America’s Road Team Captains pulled up to the State Capitol building in Phoenix, AZ one day in late January (2016) and began dispensing advice to non-professional drivers from the cabs of their trucks. The team is made up of a group of elite truck drivers who have accomplished an amazing feat: they have put millions of miles under their wheels without having a single accident. They are rare exceptions to the rule.
Every professional truck driver goes through a CDL training program prior to getting a commercial driver’s license. Much of that program is devoted to driver safety. Yet professional drivers are only half the equation. Non-professionals who share the roads with trucks must also do their part to ensure the highways remain safe. That is what the America’s Road Team Captains are all about.
The Team spends quite a bit of time educating people about how to safely share the road with trucks. Their presentation in Arizona was just one of many they will conduct this year. It is a very necessary presentation, according to the American Trucking Associations. They say that other drivers cause as many as 75% of the accidents involving trucks. The biggest problem, they say, is that non-professionals do not understand the handling issues involved with truck driving.
“Trucks are not dangerous,” Team member Steve Fields said during the Phoenix event. “People just don’t understand the handling characteristics of a truck.”
The Team took the time to educate all who attended the event about ways they could be safe around trucks. We will not go into all the details here, but there were five points made in the presentation that we believe are worth repeating:
- Stopping Time – In perfect conditions, it can take up to 100 yards for a fully loaded truck to come to a complete stop. Cutting in front of a truck is always a dangerous business. Doing so may force the driver to slam on his/her brakes, locking up the wheels and sending the rig into a potentially dangerous fishtail.
- Blind Spots – If cars have blind spots, and they do, so do trucks. The problem with a truck’s blind spots is that they are much bigger. Non-professionals need to understand that truck drivers are blind immediately to the front and rear and along both sides of their trailers. The most dangerous spot is along the passenger side of the truck, near the front of the trailer.
- Space Constraints – There are some roads not well suited to large trucks. Therefore, car drivers should be careful to give truck drivers room to safely maneuver. This even includes passing on multi-lane interstates.
- Speed Constraints – Trucks are inherently slower than cars, especially when accelerating. Drivers should be very careful about trucks trying to pass other vehicles on the interstate. It may take a truck longer to accelerate just to complete a pass, so be patient.
- Tailgating – Tailgating a truck is never a good idea. First of all, being too close to the back of a truck prevents the car driver from seeing what’s ahead. Second, trucks are known to kick up road debris that could easily shatter a windshield or puncture a grill.
It takes a concerted effort by every driver on the road to keep things moving without accidents. At C.R. England, we constantly remind our drivers to put safety first. We join America’s Road Team Captains in encouraging non-professionals to be safe as well. It is better to get where you are going a little bit late than to risk being in a serious accident due to impatience and ignorance.
1. AZ Central – http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2016/01/26/truck-drivers-highway-freeway-road-safety/79324456/