Keep An Eye Open For Truckers This Independence Day Weekend

Whatever day it falls on -- weekday or weekend -- most US employees will not spend July 4 at work. Instead, they will hit America's highways and byways on their way to barbecues and fireworks displays. There are, however, employees who rarely get holidays and who warrant special scrutiny by America's motorists this weekend: truck drivers. While they should be given wide berth on any given day of the year, an argument could be made that big rig drivers should be watched especially closely on holidays, as they may be tempted to cut corners in terms of safety, often times at the urging of their employers, the trucking companies.

Truck company owners are notorious for exploiting their drivers
by forcing them to drive trucks that are dangerous because of delayed or ignored maintenance that affect safety, so they can improve their bottom line. Also there's such a shortage of drivers, these companies often hire inexperienced truckers who never get adequate training. Instead they are forced to work in a results-oriented culture where all the companies care about is delivering their loads on time, then picking up the next load. These companies may also encourage their drivers to lie on their log books about the amount of time they spend sleeping, thus flouting federal regulations and safety.

So what's a motorist to do? Here are some tips to get you safely to and back from your Fourth of July festivities: Maintain at least one-car length distance (or roughly 10 feet) between you and the truck you are following for every 10 mph of speed. In other words, if you are driving at 60 mph, keep at least 60 feet back, or six car lengths. If you aren't good at estimating distance, try the counting the number of seconds between when a truck passes a fixed object such as a bridge or light post, and when you pass that same object. (Count "one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand," etc.) If you can't get the words "two-one-thousand" out of your mouth before you pass the object, you are too close and need to drop back If the conditions are slippery or otherwise more hazardous, you will need to increase this distance to 10-seconds behind the truck When passing a truck on the left, don't pull back over into the right lane until you can see his entire cab in your rearview mirror Under no circumstances drive so closely to the truck that you can't see their rear view mirrors. Remember: If you can't see his mirrors, he can't see you! If at all possible, never pass a truck on the right; because of a bigger blind spot, it's simply much more difficult for truck drivers to see passenger cars on the right. After passing a truck, accelerate away to create at least one car-length space for every 10 mph you are travelling, even if it means you may temporarily have to speed. This will give him a greater margin of error should he become distracted and suddenly need to stop quickly. (He may jack-knife but at least he won't end up in your back seat!) Report any truck that is driving erratically to the state police by calling 911 Remember that trucks often turn a bit left before turning right, and vice-versa, so their trailers don't jump the curb or otherwise cut the corner. Keep that in mind when passing them.

Generally speaking, always drive as far away from a tractor-trailer as you possibly can and not impede traffic. In a collision, you will always get the worse end of the deal and that's no way to celebrate the birth of our country this Independence Day Weekend. 

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