Opinion: Taking it Slow in Work Zones Saves Lives
By Tim Frazier
Spring is here in Alabama, and with the many colorful plants and flowers starting to bloom, the color orange takes on an important signal of highway safety this time of year.
Spring is when many road construction projects start, and, as a result, we begin to see more orange road signs reminding motorists that work zones are a sign to slow down.
Next week, April 11-15, is National Work Zone Awareness Week, and according to the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse’s recent figures, work zone accidents led to about 762 fatal crashes and result in 842 deaths a year. It may surprise you that most victims of work zone crashes are motorists and their passengers. In fact, more than 707 of the 842 fatalities were drivers or passengers.
As we travel this spring – whether driving a car or a truck – it’s important to stay focused while behind the wheel, especially as you approach those orange signs and drive through a roadway work zone. Drivers should slow down, remain alert and proceed with caution while scanning one’s surroundings.
For the trucking industry, road safety is a priority. As America’s 3.36 million truck drivers travel across the country hauling the goods and supplies that our communities rely on – food, clothing, medicine, and everything you need for your favorite activities – safety remains at the top of the list when it comes to ensuring on-time deliveries.
Through company and industry training programs, drivers are empowered with the tools, resources and technology needed to separate safely. In fact, the trucking industry invests about $10 billion each year in safety programs and training for drivers and equipment.
For the Alabama Trucking Association, our members train drivers to be alert and aware of their surroundings at all times. The upshot is commercial drivers want to return home safely to their families as much as anyone. They also understand that their loved ones share the road with other commercial drivers, and they expect the same level of professionalism and care from them as they do themselves.
In fact, many commercial drivers work with the public to educate them on how to drive alongside trucks. One example is the Share the Road program, which is comprised of drivers who volunteer to help educate the motoring public on how to safely drive alongside 18-wheelers through hands-on demonstrations. Our Associations has a squad of professional drivers we call the Alabama Road Team that visits hundreds of high school driver’s education classes to share the message of road safety.
While sharing the road with trucks, motorists can do their part to drive safely, too. When passing a truck, automobile drivers should signal, provide enough room ahead of the truck, and be aware of a truck driver’s blind spots. Trucks need more stopping distance than passenger vehicles. If you visualize a football field, that’s the length it takes a fully loaded tractor-trailer to stop.
Driving responsibly, especially through work zones, will keep ourselves, our families and those driving next to us, safe. Join Alabama’s trucking industry and let’s work to keep our roadways safer for all drivers this spring.
Tim Frazier is Vice President of Safety & Compliance for the Alabama Trucking Association. He is a trucking industry expert with more than 40 years of experience in fleet safety, maintenance, and management working with some of the region’s largest and most successful fleets. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.