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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

National “Share the Road Highway Safety” Program Offers Life-Saving Tips by Top Truck Drivers

Defensive Driving Event to Promote Safe Driving Recently Held in California

Recently, as part of the American Trucking Associations' national Share the Road highway safety tour, top professional truck drivers presented life-saving highway driving tips. The Share the Road event kicked off GE's Trailer Sales Showroom Grand Opening in Fontana, California, where the elite "million mile accident-free" drivers shared their message of road safety. California is experiencing an upward trend in highway fatalities, according to the Nation Highway Traffic Safety Administration, thereby making this event even more poignant.

Joining the elite group of drivers to discuss highway safety with California motorists was the American Trucking Associations, California Trucking Association, California Highway Patrol, GE Trailer Fleet Services and the Share the Road sponsors, Mack Trucks and Michelin North America. The Fontana "Share the Road" stop helped drivers learn how to safely share the road with large trucks.

Kent Durant, a professional truck driver from Roadway, said, "With the summer approaching, many motorists will be hitting the highway for family vacations. Additional cars on the road means safe driving habits become all the more important. That's why we're out here today—to educate the public and make us all a little safer."

On hand at the event were professional truck drivers Kent Durant (Roadway), Mack McAdory (FedEx Ground), Larry Shelton (Old Dominion Freight) and Rick Whittle (Bulldog Hiway Express). These drivers belong to an elite team of million-mile, accident-free truck drivers who spread the trucking industry's safety messages across the country. "Share the Road offers practical tips that can improve highway safety," said GE Trailer Fleet Services President & CEO Joe Artuso. "We're pleased to provide the special trailer used in this program to underscore GE's commitment to safe working conditions—at our own facilities and for our customers traveling on America's roads."

The presentation of Share the Road safety measures is important to local motorists because, according to statistics:

• 4,236 fatalities occurred on California highways in 2006 - comprising 10 percent of total U.S. highway fatalities according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

• 35 percent of all truck-involved highway deaths occur in a truck's blind spots, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration).

• According to three different studies - including those by the Automobile Association of America Traffic Safety Foundation and the Department of Transportation, car drivers unintentionally create 3 out of 4 truck-involved deaths.

The demonstration was initiated to teach specific skills to motorists in order to safely pass trucks and large commercial vehicles on the highways, and to arrive safely at their destinations. After the presentation, reporters and photographers were taken on tractor-trailer rides to see a "trucker's eye-view" of the highway. From the truck driver's perspective, they saw safe merging and stopping distances, and discovered some of the differences between how cars and large trucks operate on the highways.

Here are the American Trucking Association’s Share the Road Safety Guidelines for Motorists:

• Never cut in front of a truck. Fully-loaded trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and need the length of a football field to stop. In comparison, most cars weigh only 3,000 pounds.

• Do not drive alongside a truck. There are large blind spots around trucks where cars momentarily "disappear" from view and the truck driver is unable to see you.

• Pass trucks quickly. Cars must make themselves visible, and should not linger near trucks, and should move past them or slow down to back off, out of the blind spot.

• Only change lanes when you can see both of the truck's headlights in your rear-view mirror.

• Pass a truck on the left, not on the right. A truck's blind spot on the right runs the length of the trailer and extends out 3 lanes. Motorists should try to avoid passing through this large blind spot.

• Keep a safety cushion around trucks leaving a 10-car length safety cushion in front of a truck and stay back 20-25 car lengths. Following a truck too closely obscures your view.

• Check the truck's mirrors. If you're following a truck and you can't see the driver's face in the truck's side mirrors, that means the truck driver is unable to see you.

• Allow trucks adequate space to maneuver. Trucks make wide turns at intersections and require additional lanes to turn, so motorists should allow a truck the space it needs to maneuver.

Online courses are now available to educate drivers on the rules of the road and the latest defensive driving techniques. Try it today!

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