Friday, October 16, 2009

Observations from the Field

I’ve been watching you – and what I see is good!

Hubby and I were on the road again – 465 rainy Missouri miles on Tuesday alone. That gave me a lot of time to watch how car, truck and commercial truck drivers behave.

I saw that most Missourians are safe travelers. Almost 8 out of 10 buckle up – that’s the best defense we’ve got against serious injury or death if a crash were to happen. And most people share the road quite nicely.

Because vehicles on our highways range from bicycles to specially permitted high and wide load commercial trucks, safe travel is a matter of mutual respect. It appears that in at least one safety measure, Missourians are doing a great job: between 2006 and 2008, the number of commercial motor vehicle crashes that resulted in fatalities fell 19 percent.

I do my best to concentrate on driving so everyone can Arrive Alive, but I know I slip up from time to time. The last thing I want to do is distract another driver from the driving task, so I like the reminders the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety put out this week for Operation Safe Driver Week, Oct. 18-24, 2009. During the week, law enforcement agencies turn a keen eye toward the driving behavior of passenger cars and commercial trucks.

For passenger vehicle drivers, several tips can improve your safety when driving near commercial trucks or buses:
· Focus on driving. Texting, phone calls, eating and other distractions take your attention away from safe operation of your vehicle.
· After passing a truck, wait until you can see both of its headlights in your rearview mirror before pulling into the same lane.
· Keep a safety cushion around trucks. Can you see the truck’s side mirrors? If not, the driver cannot see you. Leave at least a 20-car-length gap when driving behind a truck.
· Never linger alongside a truck and risk “disappearing” from their vision due to blind spots.
· Obey speed limits and traffic signs.

It is also important for truck drivers to remember to:
· Pre-inspect the condition of your vehicle before travel and make sure your load is secure.
· Maximize the vision around your truck with properly adjusted mirrors; be sure mirrors are properly set and clean.
· Focus on driving, not distractions.Obey speed limits and traffic signs. Excessive speed reduces your ability to avoid a crash, extends your vehicle’s stopping distance, and increases the severity of a crash when it occurs.

As impressed as I am with Missourians' driving, I'm tired! I think we'll stick close to home this weekend...but there are some really great fall festivals and Oktoberfests and...

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