All drivers need to be truck aware

The majority of fatal car-truck crashes are caused by passenger vehicle drivers.

By Times Staff

Drivers are being urged to take extra precautions around large trucks to reduce crashes that result in a significant number of fatalities each year in British Columbia.

The “Be Truck Aware” campaign, led by an alliance of B.C. road safety stakeholders, coincides with Operation Safe Driver week, a continent-wide initiative in which police and commercial vehicle safety and enforcement (CVSE) officers will be ticketing drivers of both cars and trucks for failing to share the road and follow safe driving practices.

WATCH: Be Truck Aware video

One-in-five traffic fatalities in B.C. occur in crashes involving large commercial vehicles. Across North America, studies have shown that in car-truck crashes, occupants of the passenger vehicle are at far greater risk of being killed than the driver of the truck, and that the majority of fatal car-truck crashes are caused by passenger vehicle drivers.

Be Truck Aware is a combined campaign of education and enforcement aimed at reducing car-truck crashes. There are several things that drivers of passenger vehicles can do to reduce the risk of crashes and accidents. These include:

• Leave space. Large trucks need extra room to stop and to turn. Don’t take away their turning or braking room.

• Don’t merge too soon. When passing a truck, make sure you can see both its headlights in your rear-view mirror before merging back into the lane. If you merge too soon, the truck driver may not see you, or may not be able to stop in time to avoid a crash.

• Be visible around trucks. Either slow down or move well ahead of large trucks to stay out of the truck driver’s blind spots.

• Anticipate wide turns. Watch for trucks making wide swings to turn right. Never drive ahead in the right lane beside a turning truck.

Similarly, truck drivers are being urged to take precautions to reduce crashes and their severity. They can ensure that brakes and tires are in top condition to minimize stopping distances; adjust speed and driving in poor weather and road conditions; stay sharp and focused by getting plenty of rest and eliminating in-cab distractions; and make sure loads are well-balanced and secure, to reduce the likelihood of a crash and its impact on others.

“We’re asking drivers to consider their own driving behaviour around large trucks,” says Lindsay Matthews, director of road safety for ICBC. “If we want our roads to be safer, we first need to start with ourselves. Be aware and take precautions around trucks, including leaving extra space when changing lanes or when trucks are turning.”

To learn more about the Be Truck Aware campaign, visit www.gov.bc.ca/betruckaware.

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