Commercial trucks are a very important part of economy. Theytransport all types of products that are we use on a day-to-day basis. Our economy depends on the trucking industry to transport everything from toiletries to vehicles. There are very strict guidelines that commercial truck drivers must follow while performing the very important task of transporting the commodities that the public need. Lack of knowledge and proper training of passenger car drivers have made highways unsafe and almost deadly for the commercial trucking industry.
An online brochure found on www.sharetheroadsafely.org states that over seventy percent of accidents involving commercial trucks are caused by passenger vehicles. This fact is almost non-existent in the training manuals for passenger car operators. Accidents involving commercial vehicles are considered to be the sole responsibility of the truck driver until it is proven that they where not at fault. These investigations could take weeks, months, or even years, and sometimes the findings are never released publicly, therefore leading the public to believe that commercial trucks are the leading cause of highway accidents.
Findings by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration say that the failure to train passenger vehicle drivers to share the highway with commercial vehicles is the leading cause in highway accidents. The lack of understanding of how a commercial vehicle operates cause drivers to drive in "no-zones", pass, or maneuver their vehicles in extremely dangerous ways.
Harden Page 2A commercial vehicle's response time is very different from a passenger vehicle. Truck drivers have to react almost immediately to a hazardous situation for several reasons which include a three second air brake delay (this is the time it takes for the air to be released and stopping the truck), the weight of the load, and the position of the vehicles around them. Passenger vehicle operators do not consider this when stopping abruptly or "jumping" in front of a commercial vehicle, thus causing the truck driver to hit the vehicle in front of them or driving along beside them or causing the truck's trailer to slide sideways or jack- knife.
Several organizations, like Share the Road Safely, that are trying to inform the operators of passenger vehicles about the importance of safe driving on the highways. They offer very detailed information about the importance of knowing the "no-zones" (the areas around a commercial vehicle in which the driver cannot see), safe traveling distances, passing and maneuvering techniques. These are very positive steps in the education of passenger vehicle operators, but the question remains, "Is this information being taught?" After reviewing the Arkansas Drivers Test Manual, I found only one and a half pages on safety practices for driving around commercial vehicles. The passenger vehicle operator is only provided with limited safety information concerning commercial vehicles. This is in no way sufficient to making the highway safe for either commercial drivers or passenger drivers.
The procedure for obtaining a driver's license is very inadequate. There aren't any classes taught safety or road regulations. A driver requests a manual, take a written test, and if they receive a score of seventy percent or higher, the road test is given.
Harden Page 3Upon passing the road test, the driver receives a thirty day driver's permit and if they complete the thirty days without any infractions, a license is issued. There is no consideration to what the passenger vehicle driver failed to understand as long as they are within the passing percentage to receive a driver's license. How can we allow such inadequate training, especially when the age to obtain a license starts at fourteen?A commercial vehicle operator must attend a three to four week class before they can to take the Commercial Driver's License test according to information on www.swifttransportation.com. It is required that they master the road regulations for passenger vehicles as well as for the commercial vehicles that they will be operating. They have to review various literature and videos that depict images of what can happen when a commercial vehicle collides with a passenger vehicle. And if there is inadequacy in any section of the exam, they must take additional training courses and retest before a license is issued. This should be a requirement for obtaining a driver's license for passenger drivers. Passenger vehicle operators need to be taught the importance of road safety, how careless and risky driving causes accidents. Everyone should know and understand how a commercial vehicle is operated, and how important it is to follow the "no zone" driving technique when driving on the highways. Drivers of passenger vehicles should have to see the videos that are shown in the CDL courses and see the lives that have been tragically altered or ended because someone made a risky decision while driving. This would make passenger vehicle operators aware of the importance of driving responsibly and encourage them to put that knowledge into action every time they get behind the wheel.
Harden Page 4The key to making the highways safe for all drivers is learning to share the road safely. We all must take the precautions necessary to save lives by learning and understanding all the rules of operating all types of vehicles.
Implementing a Driver Operations course in order to maintain a driver's license would not only save the transportation department and millions of dollars, enhance the economy by keeping the transport of goods running smoothly and reliably, it would save lives.
Harden Page 5Reference SitesArkansas Drivers Manualwww.fmcsa.dot.govwww.swifttransportation.comwww.sharetheroadsafely.org