Spokane Police: Stay safe when driving near commercial vehicles

Michele Anderson, Public Safety Communications Manager

Thursday, February 15, 2018 at 9:55 a.m.

With the construction season right around the corner, the Spokane Police Department wants to remind motorists to use caution and avoid unsafe driving behaviors around commercial vehicles.

“We tend to see more commercial vehicles around the construction seasons so it’s a perfect opportunity to remind motorists to use extra caution and drive safely,” says SPD Traffic Sergeant John Griffin. “The goal is to make the roads safer for everyone.”

With the help of a Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks (TACT) grant from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Spokane Traffic Unit will be conducting comprehensive and high-visibility traffic enforcement and commercial motor vehicle safety inspection programs in high-risk locations and corridors. Officers will be looking for unsafe behaviors that officers will be looking for include “cutting off” semi-trucks, unsafe lanes changes, tailgating, failure to signal lane changes, failure to yield right of way and speeding.

The purpose of the TACT program is to reduce the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities on roadways and to increase public awareness about unsafe driving behaviors around commercials vehicles.

Below are some important tips for driving safely around commercial vehicles:

Stay out of the “No Zones”

Commercial vehicles, large trucks and buses have huge blind spots – or No Zones – around the front, back, and sides of the vehicle. Remember if you can’t see the driver in the truck’s side mirror, assume that the driver can’t see you. Don’t drive in a blind spot – slow down or move ahead to stay visible. Be particularly careful when merging near a truck or bus. You may likely be in a blind spot.

Pass Safely

Make sure you can see the driver in the mirror before passing. Signal clearly then move into the left lane and, being mindful of the speed limit, accelerate so that you can get past the truck or bus safely and promptly. Don’t linger in the blind spot. Make sure the truck or bus is visible in your rearview mirror before you pull in front; give it extra space. Avoid passing trucks and buses on a downgrade where they tend to pick up speed. Never pass from the right lane. When a bus or truck is passing you, stay to the right and slow down slightly. Giving the driver room to pass safely helps get you out of the blind spot quicker. Remember to give trucks and buses plenty of space to merge in front of you when coming off ramps or changing lanes.

Don’t Cut It Close

Cutting in too close in front of another vehicle is always dangerous, but it’s especially dangerous to “cut off” a commercial bus or truck. If you move in quickly from either side, you’re likely to be in a blind spot so the driver may not see you in time. Even if you’re visible, the vehicle may not be able to slow quickly enough to avoid a crash because of the increased stopping distance required to stop a commercial vehicle as compared to a passenger vehicle.

Stay Back

Tailgating a truck or bus presents added dangers. First, it puts you in a blind spot – or No Zone. Because trucks are so high off the ground, if you fail to stop in time (or get hit from behind) your vehicle could slide under the truck. Getting too close when stopped is also dangerous – particularly on an upgrade, where a bus or truck might roll back.

Anticipate Wide Turns

Buses and trucks require extra turning room – they swing wide, or may even initiate a turn from a middle (rather than far right) lane. If a truck or bus has its turn signal on, never try to squeeze by it or get between the vehicle and the curb. When you stop at an intersection, never “block the box” or stop in front of the line, as buses and trucks require that space to complete turns safely.

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