Truck Driver Shows CBS Who the Real Dangerous Drivers Areby Jana Ritter - Published: 11/18/2016
Truck drivers are getting tired of being perceived as “the bad guys” blamed for the recent increase in rig-involved accidents causing fatalities, injuries and major back-ups. In fact, one trucker is so sick of it that he took a CBS news crew on a ride to give the public a front seat view of who the real dangerous drivers are on today's US roads.
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“If nine cars pass me, there’s eight of them doing something they shouldn’t be doing,” Russell Simpson tells CBS2. He says that after 30 years on the job as a professional truck driver, distracted driving amongst motorists has never been as bad as it is now. “I’ve seen everything, a lady, driving, has a bowl of Cheerios with milk. People on their phone, putting makeup on,” Simpson reveals. He also says the increasing epidemic of distracted motorists are causing the recent increase in truck involved accidents and it's the reason why more trucks are equipped with dash cameras to prove it.
Months ago CBS aired a story about tractor-trailer crashes causing backed up traffic and it launched an overwhelming response from truck drivers like Simpson, insisting that most often these accidents are triggered by motorists. And according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, they are right. In fact, one recent FMCSA study revealed that in 80 percent of car and truck collisions, the car drivers were at fault. Daphne Jefferson, Deputy Administrator for FMSCA, says that over the last year the number of accident fatalities has increased for the first time in five years. She also says that while many of these fatal accidents involve large trucks, often the problem is that motorists don’t understand the major differences in how large vehicles maneuver on the road. “If you can’t see the driver of that truck, they can’t see you,”she explains. The FMCSA has decided to take action by launching the campaign, “Our Roads, Our Responsibility,” geared towards teaching motorists the way large trucks operate and how to share the road with them.
Simpson agrees that motorists really need to be more informed about just how difficult it is to operate an 18-wheeler. They need to realize that the difference between driving a regular passenger vehicle and a loaded tractor trailer weighing about 80,000 lbs. and traveling at 60 mph, is the difference between a motorist being able to making a sudden stop and a truck driver needing the entire length of a football field to come to a complete and safe stop. He also points out how many motorists also don’t realize that truck drivers don’t have the same field of view and often can’t even see them. “We can hide a school bus on the right of this truck, that’s our largest blind spot,” Simpson explains to the CBS crew.
However, Simpson also says that it’s still the truck driver’s job to always stay alert and drive defensively, anticipating other drivers’ moves and errors. He also admits that distracted driving is a problem among truck drivers too, and they are especially prone to it spending long tedious hours on the road.