Florida Highway Patrol troopers, accompanied by professional truck drivers, reportedly visited 13 Hillsborough County schools on Thursday, Jan. 24, to educate more than 1,000 high school driver-education students on how they, as new drivers on Florida’s highways, can safely share the road with tractor trailers.
Among the schools visited, in the Greater Brandon area, were Durant and Bloomingdale high schools.
“Sharing the road safely with large trucks can be a challenge for anyone, but it is especially challenging to new drivers,” said Mary Lou Rajchel, president and CEO of the Florida Trucking Association. “To ease this apprehension and educate young, new drivers, we provide education on the operating characteristics of full-size tractor trailers, as well as the large blind spots that exist.”
According to the National Safety Council, about 10 teens died each day in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2009.
“As Florida's population continues to grow, the demand for the transport of goods and services steadily increases,” Rajchel continued. “With increased demand forecasted, more trucks will hit the highway to make timely deliveries to consumers all across the Sunshine State.”
Because of the increasing numbers of drivers, motorists and truckers traveling the Florida’s highways, the Florida Trucking Association and professional truck drivers—like members of the Florida Road Team—want teenage drivers to know how to share the road safely with tractor-trailers.
Comprised of 21 professionals, the Florida Road Team is supported by the FTA and member companies who teach and provide safety tips and information to civic organizations, government groups, the general public and the media.
During the safety instruction, students will have the opportunity to learn about “The No-Zone.” A Florida Road Team member will walk the students through a safety demonstration duplicating a real-life highway scenario with cars and trucks.
Students will get behind the cab of a big rig and see firsthand the blind spots around tractor-trailers where cars "disappear" from a truck driver's view—referred to as “The No-Zone.”
In an effort to help promote safe driving, the Florida Road Team will demonstrate the importance of “No-Zones” and will deliver the message: “Don't Hang Out in the No-Zone.”
No-Zones are danger areas around trucks and buses where crashes are more likely to occur; some of those No-Zones are actual blind spots where you car "disappears" from the view of the truck or bus driver.
SIDE NO-ZONES - Don't "hang out" on either side of trucks or buses
- They have big blind spots on both sides. If you can't see the driver's face in his side-view mirror, he can't see you. If that driver needs to change lanes for any reason, you could be in big trouble.
REAR NO-ZONES - Avoid tailgating.
- Unlike cars, trucks and buses have huge No-Zones directly behind them. Truck and bus drivers can't see your car back there, and you can't see what's going on ahead of you. If the truck or bus drivers brakes suddenly, you have no place to go.
FRONT NO-ZONES - Pass safely
- Don't cut in front too soon after passing. Truck and bus drivers need nearly twice the time and room to stop as cars. Look for the whole front of the truck in your rear-view mirror before pulling in front, and then don't slow down.
BACKING UP NO-ZONE - Pay closer attention
- Never cross behind a truck that is backing up. Hundreds of motorist and pedestrians are killed or injured each year by ignoring trucks backing up. Truck drivers do not have a rearview mirror and may not see you cutting in behind them.
WIDE RIGHT TURNS - Avoid the "squeeze play"
- Truck and bus drivers sometimes need to swing wide to the left to safely make a right turn. They can't see cars squeezing in between them and the curb. Watch for their blinkers and give them room to turn.
The Florida Road Team is an ambassador and safety instruction program of the Florida Trucking Association. In 2012 alone, the Road Team’s 21 members delivered safety presentations to nearly 8,400 participants at 67 events statewide. This totals 816 Road Team hours and 454 Florida Highway Patrol Trooper hours (as part of the demonstration partnership).