~ Motorists reminded to drive safely around big trucks ~

How often after a crash do people question, “If only they’d used their turn signal, or if only they’d worn their safety belt?” “If only” doesn’t save lives – driving smart does.

Commercial motor vehicles (CMV) are an important part of our nation’s economy. They carry goods from coast to coast and make up 20 percent of all traffic on Missouri’s interstates.

During Operation Safe Driver Week, Oct. 16-22, along with statewide educational efforts, law enforcement will actively pull passenger vehicles and trucks over for unsafe behavior, including but not limited to speeding, failure to obey a traffic device or driving under the influence.

Crashes involving tractor trailers don’t happen very often, but when they do, the disproportionate size of a truck versus a car means those crashes can often involve serious injuries or worse. There’s no room for taking chances around big trucks – they require big room. “We don’t want you to take any chances when it comes to safely moving around big trucks,” said Bill Whitfield, chair of the executive committee of the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. “Please pay attention.”

There were 120 people killed and 3,732 injured in Missouri traffic crashes involving a CMV in 2015. Here are some safety tips to help keep everyone safe when sharing the road with large commercial vehicles:

Don’t cut off large trucks or buses when passing. Make sure you can see the top of the truck or bus in your rearview mirror before moving back into your original lane.

Stay out of the “No Zone.” Big trucks have large blind spots on either side and up to 200 feet behind a vehicle. Pass only on the left side.

Watch your following distance. Keep a safety cushion around trucks. Can you see the truck’s side mirrors? If not, the driver cannot see you.

For additional information regarding roadway safety, or other transportation-related topics, contact the MoDOT Customer Service Center toll free, at 1-888-ASK-MoDOT (275-6636). For more information on the Operation Safe Driver Campaign, visit http://savemolives.com/campaigns/details/operation-safe-driver-awareness-week.