Sitting in a truck that had special safety features, Jerry Adams was able to easily check his passenger-side blind spot.
The truck, which was used Tuesday for demonstration purposes at a Share the Road program event in Columbia County, also had a SONAR-based cruise control device that can cut the vehicle's speed if a car changes lanes too quickly in front of the truck.
Although Adams has reached 2 million accident-free miles without such safety features in his own semi, he said the new features would only help make his drive a safer one.
"The safest way to drive is to be aware of your surroundings, be mindful of other drivers and don't take chances," said Adams, a C & S Wholesale Grocers/BiLo driver from Simpsonville, S.C.
Adams said most semis on the road today aren't yet equipped with such safety devices as the one in Tuesday's demonstration. The American Trucking Association is looking to change that, and on Tuesday brought its Share The Road program to Columbia County.
At the Interstate 20 eastbound weigh station, Share The Road officials created a "snapshot" of a driving scenario with cars situated at the midpoint of the trailer on either side of the semi and one within a few car-lengths behind the semi.
From inside the cab, without convex mirrors or the fender mounted camera, the vehicles were in the truck driver's blind spots, Adams said.
Federal regulations do not mandate convex mirrors or camera system, Adams said, adding that though most companies install the mirrors, very few companies have yet to install cameras.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, approximately 1,300 fatalities result each year from crashes involving cars that are inside a semi's blind spot.
Adams said motorists should never cut in front of a truck because they can take up to the length of a football field to stop from highway speeds. Motorists also should avoid lingering alongside of a truck, should pass trucks quickly and change lanes only when drivers can see both of the truck's headlights in their rear view mirror. Trucks should be passed on the left to avoid them going into the passenger-side blind spot. A cushion distance of 20-25 car lengths from trucks also should be maintained if possible.
Nationwide, millions of drivers will be sharing the road with commercial trucks this July 4th, said Judy Reville, the Augusta division manager for AAA, a partner in the program.
"This holiday season, regardless of the high gas prices, people are still traveling in their automobiles," she said. "Safety is the issue."
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