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Wednesday, Sep. 17, 2014

Motorists should be 'semi' conscious

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

(Photo)
Vehicles traveled U.S. Highway 60 Monday afternoon.
SIKESTON - Tom Caposey admits when he's driving his 20-foot long truck that's pulling a trailer about 53 feet long, he can't just stop on a dime.

"One of the main problems I encounter (when driving) is people pulling out in front of a rig," said the 20-year truck driver who works for Pullen Brothers trucking company in Sikeston. "When they're merging on the expressway and I'm coming at them at 65 mph and they think they can pull out in front of me "it's not that easy to stop a rig."

With summer travel well under way, the Missouri Department of Transportation has been encouraging motorists to become "semi" conscious and to learn how to share the road with the large trucks.

"Many motorists don't understand that truck drivers can't always see them," said Scott Turner, highway safety administrator for MoDOT. "Crashes and fatalities are often the result."

In 2003, there were 14,033 crashes in Missouri involving commercial trucks.

Rick Horrell, director of operations for Potashnick Transportation Inc. in Sikeston, said the No. 1 common issue he hears truck drivers talking about is other motorists not being aware of the driver's blind spot.

"The bigger the vehicle you're in, the bigger the blind spot you have," Horrell said.

Caposey agreed. "If you can't see us in the side view mirrors that means we can't see you," he said.

Motorists should also not pass on the right of trucks. And motorists should allow plenty of space between their vehicle and a large truck, Horrell noted. "For example, we had a truck driver who was ahead in a traffic jam and he was slowing to come to a stop and a car whipped right in front of him. And the car stopped, but he wasn"t able to stop fast enough and rear-ended the car," Horrell recalled.

Something other drivers may not be aware of is the big trucks aren't allowed in the left lane on most state highways so for their drivers, the center lane is the passing lane, Caposey said.

"This is a big one, especially this time of year because RVs and trailers of people going on vacation. But some will sit in the center lane doing five miles per hour under the speed limit and will not move to the right lane and then we have to pass them on the right "and that's dangerous," Caposey said. Caposey advised motorists to use good judgment in changing conditions such as rain and snow. Also using headlights and windshield wipers is very helpful in these conditions, he said.

In addition Caposey said as he's traveling America's highways, he sees a lot of smaller vehicles not in compliance with the law.

"We have regulations and inspections almost all of the time and there are a lot of vehicles on the road that have brake lights or headlights out, and people need to be more up to par on the maintenance of their vehicles," Caposey said. "Our inspections are done according to rules and regulations we run by. If we break the rule we have to pay for it in the form of a fine."

But for every "bad" driver, there are also motorists who are courteous to truck drivers, Caposey pointed out.

"There's a lot of people that flash their lights to me and slow down and let me move over," Caposey praised.

Caposey, who lives in Inverness, Fla., said he travels about 150,000 miles a year across 48 states and said he's seen it all on the highways. He admitted he does most of his driving at night to get more mileage and because there's less traffic.

"I have a safe clean driving record, no tickets," Caposey said. "I wish some of the other motorists would show a little respect to that. This is our profession. I do this every day, and I know what I'm doing."

MoDOT recently developed a brochure that includes the following tips for sharing the road safely with commercial motor vehicles:

  • Never underestimate the size and speed of an approaching tractor-trailer. A tractor-trailer often appears to be traveling at a slower speed because of its large size. Many crashes take place at intersections because the driver of the passenger vehicle did not realize how close the truck was.

  • Pass safely. Always use your turn signals when changing lanes. After passing, change lanes only when you can see both of the truck's headlights in your rearview mirror.

  • Large trucks need more room to make turns and maneuver in traffic.

  • Observe turn signals and avoid a "squeeze play."

  • Don't cut between truck

    and the curb.

  • low down and pay attention when entering and driving in work zones. Don"t speed up just to get around a large truck.

  • Always buckle up

  • attention, avoid distractions and obey the speed limit.

  • Never drink and drive