JEFFERSON CITY - Missourians are doing a great job of sharing the road: between 2006 and 2008, the number of commercial motor vehicle crashes that resulted in fatalities fell 19 percent.
Operation Safe Driver Week, Oct. 18-24, 2009, brings awareness to the importance of commercial motor vehicle and passenger vehicle safety. During the week, law enforcement agencies turn a keen eye toward the driving behavior of passenger cars and commercial trucks.
Participating agencies include the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Kansas City Police Department, St. Louis City Police Department and the Missouri Department of Transportation.
One of the best actions any driver can take is to buckle up - your single best defense in a crash. A 2008 survey revealed that 73 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers in Missouri are wearing a safety belt. The statewide usage rate for all drivers is 77 percent.
Several other tips can improve your safety when driving near commercial trucks or buses:
· Focus on driving. Texting, phone calls, eating and other distractions take your attention away from safe operation of your vehicle.
· After passing a truck, wait until you can see both of its headlights in your rearview mirror before pulling into the same lane.
· Keep a safety cushion around trucks. Can you see the truck's side mirrors? If not, the driver cannot see you. Leave at least a 20-car-length gap when driving behind a truck.
· Never linger alongside a truck and risk "disappearing" from their vision due to blind spots.
· Obey speed limits and traffic signs.
It is also important for truck drivers to remember the following tips:
· Pre-inspect the condition of your vehicle before travel and make sure your load is secure.
· Maximize the vision around your truck with properly adjusted mirrors; be sure mirrors are properly set and clean.
· Focus on driving, not distractions.
· Obey speed limits and traffic signs. Excessive speed reduces your ability to avoid a crash, extends your vehicle's stopping distance, and increases the severity of a crash when it occurs.
For more information, visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov or http://www.savemolives.com/. Buckle Up to Arrive Alive.