Truck driver training is the single most important factor one should consider when contemplating a future in truck driving careers. Many believe that after a three week course, they are ready to tackle the road as an operator of an 80,000 pound vehicle. Reality, soon sets in…….sometimes at a serious cost. Much more skill is needed than simply jumping in the driver’s seat and going through the gears.
According to reports from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS), crashes involving large trucks are increasing. Sadly, fatalities by large truck crashes are also on the rise. As we move into the Summer months, and school lets out for our children across the country, professional drivers need to be aware and take extra precautions in their driving.
Truck crashes make headlines. If one was to look at the whole picture, you would actually see that the safest driver on the road is the professional truck driver. For the most part, the professional truck driver averages 130,000 miles per year, compared to 15,000 miles per year for the car driver. There are many statistics available showing crash analysis, but it normally fails to explain who was actually at fault. The large majority of the time, the accident or crash is the fault of the car driver. The reason being, is that the auto drivers simply do not understand the mechanics of operating a large motor vehicle. In fact, according to the Federal Highway Administration and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, fatality crashes between cars and large trucks are the fault of the driver of the car . . . 71% of the time!
All too often, our smaller counter parts, will swerve in front of the large truck suddenly decreasing their stopping distance or “safe” distance, thus causing a rear-ended collision. Another favorite of auto drivers is to pull out in front of an oncoming semi, not understanding that a vehicle weighing 80,000 pounds cannot “stop on a dime.” Also, the general public seems to not understand about the blind spots on a tractor-trailer, always attempting to “squeeze” around them to get through.
Truck driver training shows us that the average automobile traveling at 60 MPH on good road conditions, is covering 88 feet per second. It will take that automobile 271 feet in order to reach a full stop. An 80,000 pound semi tractor-trailer traveling at 60MPH will take 426 feet to stop! The size of a semi rig makes it appear that it is moving slower than it really is. Years ago I had an elderly lady pull right out in front of me and I barely got the rig stopped before crashing into her. Shaken, she stopped and got out of her car and profusely apologized for her actions. Do you know what she said to me? She stated that she thought since I was an “18 wheeler,” that I had 18 brakes! This shows the education of the general public.
Truck driving careers must continually include the truck driver training skills needed in this important aspect of our economy. The training and skills fall upon the professional driver and the trucking company. One area that is seriously lacking, is that trucking companies fail to meet even the basic standards for training when it comes to such important factors as hauling hazmat material. Generally, drivers are only shown a three minute video on HazMat Operations, and then the driver is “signed off” as being HazMat certified.
The general public is not going to take the time to educate themselves about the mechanics of a tractor-trailer. To the public, I would advise that when you see a large truck tailgating another vehicle, call the police and report them. They are a danger to you and me. Here are some facts from 2005, the latest year available:
- Large trucks involved in fatal crashes – 4,932
- Fatalities resulting from these crashes – 5,212
- Non-fatal crashes – 139,772
- Injuries in crashes – 91,824
With Summer coming and school out, professional drivers must, as always, be ready and willing to be extra cautious and drive safely. Keep your following distance and remember that the family in the car ahead of you, could be your own.
About the author:
Aubrey “Allen” Smith is an expert in truck driver training. He is the author of the Truth About Trucking and is an advocate for trucking safety. He devotes his time in revealing the scams of the trucking industry and truck driving schools to new drivers. To learn more, please visit http://www.truthabouttrucking.com today.
© 2007 – 2009, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.