Commercial truck drivers focus on Arizona road safety

Manny Franco, a UPS freight driver, is proud of his driving record.

“I got almost two million miles accident free, having been in the industry for 27 years. Hopefully I retire doing this,” Franco said.

Franco and other commercial truck drivers spent a day earlier this week at the Arizona State Capitol to highlight safety measures in the industry.

Tony Bradley, president and chief executive of the Arizona Trucking Association, said the trucking industry spends about $7.5 billion a year on commercial vehicle safety. That should reassure motorists, who are often intimidated by semis and other commercial vehicles, Bradley said.

“When you are operating around large commercial vehicles there is always kind of a concern or worry just because of their sheer size,” Bradley said Monday. “So we do try and educate them on how to safely drive around a commercial vehicle.”

His tips for motorists include being aware of and avoiding a truck driver’s blind spots.

“If we can educate the driving public on where those are, it makes everyone safer on the road,” said Bradley. (Tip: if you can’t see the trucker’s rear view mirror you’re in his or her blind spot.)
Franco advised drivers to create proper following distance behind trucks, especially during rainfall or other tough weather conditions.

“These trucks on a nice, dry day will take about 300 plus feet, which is the size of a football field, to come to a complete stop,” Franco said, pointing out trucks often travel at speeds ranging from 68 to 82 mph.

Arizona has a program aimed at making freeways safer. Arizona Department of Public Safety Capt. Brian Preston oversees a program to tame aggressive drivers that spans the corridors of West Phoenix east to Casa Grande. Preston said the program is working.

“In collisions across the board, we were actually seeing a reduction, almost a 25 percent reduction in serious or fatal collisions involving commercial vehicles,” from 2015 compared to 2014.

Arizona also has a program in which teams of professional truck drivers teach consumers in communities across the country about commercial vehicle blind spots, stopping distances and how to merge properly around semi-trucks.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the source of $7.5 billion annually spent on commercial truck safety. The trucking industry nationally spends that amount, according to the Arizona Trucking Association.

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