Sharing the road reminders
By: Phil Sneed
Since its inception in 1986, the Share the Road program has been an important educational tool to remind public drivers about how to drive when large semitrailers are nearby.
Since 1975, when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration first started tracking crash statistics, fatal crashes involving semitrailers have declined. Fatalities are also below high levels not seen since the late 1970s to early 1980s.
All told, truck drivers and fleets have placed a great emphasis on safety. Drivers are trained on all aspects of operating a semitrailer, from what to do when there might be an equipment failure while on the interstate, to best practices, such as avoiding cellphone usage behind the wheel.
"Share the Road has been an important educational tool."
Their training regimen also includes how to drive when passenger vehicles are in the vicinity, whether on the interstate or in a bustling city during rush hour.
However, not all passenger drivers know how to proceed when large trucks share the same roads. That's where the Share the Road program comes into play, and it is an important part in helping to continue to lower crash rates and fatalities.
What the program accomplishes
Started by the American Trucking Associations, the program seeks to help the general public learn how to drive with large trucks. The ATA is sure to utilize all forms of awareness by working with public officials and through online, televised and print media sources.
Part of the ATA's goal is to help reach as wide of an audience as possible, and they work toward this objective by also holding various community events all across the U.S. From automobile events to heading to a state's capitol building, the ATA sets up interactive features to help passenger drivers visualize what it's like to drive by a semitrailer. For instance, these visual elements help demonstrate how accidents happen that involve a large truck and a passenger vehicle.
The ATA also partners with state trucking associations, the FMCSA, and other highway safety partners to provide helpful information to the general public.
School events are helpful
One of the most effective methods the ATA uses to provide information to drivers is a high school demo. High school is a time when many 16 year olds receive a license, but driving programs may not totally prepare them for how to handle driving next to a semitrailer.
During the middle of May, the ATA and its Share the Road program visited Woodson High School in Fairfax, Virginia.
At the event, students were taught how to drive semitrailers as professional truckers brought along a 2014 Mack Pinnacle sleeper model to be used for the demonstration. Students were shown where blind spots are and how distracted driving or following trailers too closely can bring about harm to everyone on the road. In a statement, ATA president and CEO Bill Graves praised the two-day safety program.
"Blind spots are of particular concern with regards to semitrailers."
"Today's events are a great example of the types of community outreach that ATA takes part in with support from schools and law enforcement agencies nationwide," said Graves. "We have dedicated truck drivers in our industry who are committed to improving the perception of their profession and having a positive impact on highway safety."
Blind spots are of particular concern with regard to semitrailers, as they can be much larger than passenger drivers realize. Truckers may be forced to make a quick maneuver, but if passenger vehicles are in a blind spot, accidents may occur. As such, drivers are advised to avoid lingering alongside a truck, and they should look for the driver's face in the mirrors because that indicates the driver is visible.
Another piece of advice: Drivers should try to pass large trucks on the left because blind spots are usually smaller when compared to the right side.
ATA's Share the Road program is helpful to teach drivers best practices when driving near a semitrailer. When the right precautions are taken, everyone on the road benefits.