Simple steps to safely sharing the road with the big rigs - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Simple steps to safely sharing the road with the big rigs

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ATLANTA -

We all know how scary it can seem driving along the interstate and right beside a 40-ton tractor-trailer. But, there is some advice for drivers when it comes to driving your vehicle around those big rigs.

Last year in Georgia, there were more than 4,600 wrecks involving tractor-trailers. Hardly a day goes by when the FOX 5 SKYFOX Traffic team isn't talking about one. So, we decided to go straight to the source to talk about ways to keep the average driver safe.

Publix driver Bruce McElreath has been hauling a tractor-trailer through Atlanta for years.

"We have four major interstates converging north, south, east and west. A lot of people are trying to get to Texas, Florida, Tennessee," he said. Bruce also said that he's just about seen it all.

"We see people on the cell phone, texting, on the computer – even reading a book," he said.

And, it's those distracted drivers that Bruce says worry him the most. Studies show the majority of fatal wrecks involving a big rig are caused by the passenger vehicle. In just the last two weeks, FOX 5's SKYFOX Traffic has reported on at least five major wrecks involving tractor-trailers.

A national safety campaign called Leave More Space for Trucks works to keep drivers informed.

Bruce said, "It's just a program to make people aware of the dangers around a truck and the fact that they can't stop in a hurry. They have to make wide right turns."

Another problem is if you can't see driver's mirrors, then chances are they can't see you.

Stay out of the blind spots. Pass a truck as quickly as you can. If you can't, then back off so that the driver can see you. These are called no-zones.

Bruce said, "The biggest blind spot is on the right side of the truck because the driver has to look across the cab, into that mirror and down the length of the trailer."

Bruce teaches other truck drivers that it takes the average person three-quarters of a second to acknowledge a problem ahead. Then, another three-quarters of a second to react to it. So, seconds are precious when you're driving near an 18-wheeler.

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