A nationwide effort called Operation Safe Driver aims to reduce traffic crashes involvingcommercial trucks, buses and passenger vehicles. The program features driving safety awareness weeks, training, and other activities to preventaccidents that lead to serious injuries and fatalities.
Virginia had 85 people killed in large truck accidents in 2012, including three in Chesterfield County, according to federal data and nearly all were occupants of other vehicles. It’s the highest death toll in the last five years.
Commercial trucks and busesare obviously larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, making wrecks especially dangerous for the occupants of the smaller vehicles. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles notes the following issues that make commercial vehicles fundamentally different from other cars and trucks:
- Tractor-trailer trucks sometimes weigh up 80,000 pounds when loaded.
- As a consequence of the weight and mass of commercial vehicles, it takes 8 wheelers a lot more time and distance to stop—often as much as double what is necessary for a passenger vehicle. The stopping distance for a large truck moving at 55 mph can be as much as 400 feet. Given this, drivers need to give tractor-trailers and buses more room on the road.
- A large truckhas significant blind spots on thesides and in the front and rear. Staying out of these “no zones” is critically important for motorists to avoid an accident.
- Truckers are required to receive specialized training and licensing in order to operate large commercial vehicles. Drivers who transport hazardous material and passenger bus operators have even higher standards for road safety training and licensure.
Virginia safety officials recommend that drivers of passenger vehicles give big rigs and buses ample room to maneuver. Tailgating orcutting off commercial vehicles isrisky and can trigger rear-end accidents with devastating damage and injuries. Although truckers tend to have a good view of the road from above, their large blind spots are dangerous for other motorists and should be avoided.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also underscores theserecommendations and uses public service announcements and awareness drives to remind drivers to avoid trucks’ “no zones” and share the road safely.