Road Respect Goes Both Ways, Say Motorists

by Jana Ritter - Published: 6/02/2014

Last month, the Minneapolis Star Tribune ran a column on semi trailer truck drivers wanting respect from motorists and it drew an overwhelming response from readers wanting the treatment to go both ways. The main message was that respect has to be a two-way street and that truck drivers need to follow the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have done unto you.

Truck mirror

Motorists expressed a few of their own issues with truck drivers with the most common being those who tailgate, speed, and weave in and out of traffic and cutting off other drivers. But their biggest pet peeve is trucks that stick in the left lane and impede faster-moving traffic. Motorist Donald McCormick said, “Truckers in cruise control pull out in front of drivers in the left lane to pass another truck while maybe going 1 to 2 miles an hour faster than the truck being passed. They don’t speed up to pass, they just stay locked in cruise control while cars stack up behind them”.

McCormick and other readers even said that because of the size of their rigs, its common for truck drivers to bully the cars instead of waiting until they a have clear opportunity to pass without interfering with so many other drivers.

Owen Hall is a truck driver for UPS and said that he’s even seen his fair share of truck drivers who are disrespectful and aggressive, which adds to the animosity that exists between truckers and motorists. “A lot of truck drivers create their own problems. They are no different from other drivers. They are not better or worse. They are average drivers with the same conditions and same distractions,” Hall said of his fellow truck drivers.

Nevertheless, the truckers’ plea for respect is certainly warranted because studies from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration have shown that a car driver’s behavior was more than three times as likely to contribute to a fatal crash involving a truck than the truck driver’s behavior.

In 2012, there were 3,789 crashes involving trucks in Minnesota alone, resulting in 56 deaths and 1,178 injuries, according to the Department of Public Safety. The top five reasons for crashes: driver inattention or distraction, improper or unsafe lane use, failure to yield right of way, following too close and unsafe speed.

Motorist Ron Bongard takes the side of truck drivers. “I have no sympathy for the cars who do not drive properly around trucks, but responsibility works both ways,” he said.

Perhaps the best thing for all drivers of motorcycle, cars, buses and trucks alike, is take advice from the Operation Safe Driver initiative of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance: “Learn the proper way to drive in a cooperative manner and the safer we all will be.”