The month of June is National Safety Month. To help raise awareness and prioritize road safety, we did some research.Did you know? Nearly every item you own and the food you eat was brought to you via truck. Trucking moves over 70% of the world's freight. With an increase in commerce, there are more people on the road than ever. There are over 12 million commercial motor vehicles registered to operate across America's roadways.
The likelihood of an accident increases when there are more people on the road. With the busy summer season commencing, you can expect even more people to be on the road over the next few months. The three main causes of summer accidents are: alcohol, speeding, and distractions. These are all preventable, but continue to be the leading cause of vehicle deaths.
According to the National Safety Council, there was a 1% decline in motor vehicle deaths from 2016 to 2017. Nearly 40,100 lives were lost compared to 40,327 in 2016. The claimed decrease is not necessarily an indication of better driving, but a leveling off after a steep increase over the past two years.
To help keep you safe, you should always try to be a proactive driver. Proactive driving is anticipating the mistakes of others around you before they happen. One safety practice is to avoid driving in a truck's blind spot, or "no zone." These areas include the right side (just in front of the cab), behind the side mirrors, and directly behind the truck. Keep a safe distance from drivers as trucks are more difficult to maneuver than cars. If they can see you, you decrease the chances of an accident. A smart tip to say to yourself is "if I can't see the truck's mirrors, then the chances are the truck driver cannot see me."
Our next safety practice is to pass trucks on the left with care and at a consistent speed. It takes a full loaded truck traveling 55 MPH 6 seconds to stop. This may seem quick to you, but a truck going that speed can travel up to 512 feet in 6 seconds. That is a football field and a half in length! If you switch lanes too soon, a truck may not have the adequate time to slow down. Keep at least 30 feet away from the back of the truck and 20 feet away from the front of the truck. A rule of thumb is to be able to see the full cab in your rear view mirror before switching lanes.
Our last safety practice is to keep your eyes on the road. Drivers should not only be looking at what's ahead, but watching for cars coming up behind and beside them. Keep your eyes moving and make sure to check your mirrors every 6-8 seconds. Avoid looking at something longer than 2 seconds as you can lose your peripheral vision, which can be very dangerous! By always being alert about what is going on around you, you can decrease your chances of being involved in an accident. You are 4x more likely to get in a car accident when you are on the phone or distracted. Whatever you are doing can wait until you pull off the road or get to your destination.
When sharing the road with so many others, knowing the possible threats and how to address them can ease your mind and reduce the odds of causing an accident. Drive confidently, not aggressively. Professional truck drivers recognize the responsibility they have while driving large trucks. They have been trained about what to do in these situations, but practicing every precaution can also help keep you safe on the road.
For more summer safety tips, check out 7 Safety Tips for Summer Driving.