Friday, June 3, 2011

Program to Educate Young Adults of Hazards Around Freight Trucks Begins

Hopes to Reduce Thousands of Deaths a Year
Shipping News Feature

USA - Those who read the Handy Shipping Guide regularly will know that we often feature articles on the hazards that big freight vehicles, particularly articulated rigs, pose to cyclists and of the many efforts by legislators, manufacturers and operators to try and minimise these dangers.

However, there is another group who suffer a disproportional number of casualties around trucks and a new education program has started in the U.S.A. in an attempt to teach them of the perils that trucks can represent to the unwary.

Between 2005 and 2009, nearly 4,000 16-to-24 year-olds were killed in crashes involving large trucks on American roads and much of this has been put down to new and inexperienced drivers not appreciating how much distance a truck can take to stop or the amount of blind-space that exists around a rig for its driver.

Now the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) have teamed up with the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) for "Teens and Trucks," a campaign to educate teens about how to drive safely near large trucks, with the first education event taking place yesterday at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland.

Also present was a 53-foot long rig provided by FedEx so the students could get an idea of the sheer size and limitations of the vehicle.

“We want everyone to be safe, but as newer drivers, teens must adhere to a few simple rules,” said Anne Ferro, Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

“They are: buckle up, don’t drink and drive; don’t speed, don’t text or use your phone, and steer clear of a truck’s blind spots.”

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation the deadliest days of the year for teens aged 15-19 are in the months of May, June, July and August. During these four months, nearly twice as many die on the roads each day as compared to the rest of the year – for an average of nearly 16 deaths per day (15.9) – compared to an average of nearly nine deaths (8.8) per day during the year as a whole.

"Prom, graduation, and summer are fantastic times for youth to celebrate and enjoy. However, with these fun times come unfortunate tragedies,” said Sandy Spavone, President of NOYS.

“Through education, enforcement, and legislation lives can be saved and injuries prevented."

Students also heard stories of personal tragedies from distracted driving crash victims.

On the day of her graduation from Muhlenberg College in May 2008, Jacy Good of White Plains, New York, was involved in a crash on a Berks County, Pennsylvania, road that was caused by an 18-year-old driver who was on his cell phone and failed to observe a red light. Good was severely injured with only a 10% chance of survival; both of her parents, Jean and Jay Good, were killed.

Laurie Kelly of Takoma Park, Maryland, spoke of her 23-year-old son, Dan Woldtvedt, who died on his way to his first job after college. He was using his cell phone at the time of the crash that occurred in Colorado.

“Do not expect that having a driver's license is a right that comes without responsibility or risk,” said Steve Keppler, Executive Director of the CVSA.

“Be accountable for your actions, spread the word to your friends and parents, and help create a culture of safety. Most importantly, take the driving task seriously. You never know the impact you can have that ultimately could save your life or someone else's."

The CVSA have created an online education tool kit with a video that can be viewed on the link below.