For those of us in the trucking industry, we are well aware that the four-wheeler causes most crashes involving a commercial truck. It’s frustrating for all of us that student drivers to senior drivers are unaware of the blind spots, stopping distances and the massive weight of a tractor-trailer.
Every time the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) creates (or changes) regulations that affect professional drivers, I hear complaints that they are the safe drivers and someone needs to educate the motoring public. These drivers feel as if the rules should apply to all drivers and not just those in 18-wheelers.
What they don’t understand is that the FMCSA CANNOT regulate cars. They were designed to regulate trucks and busses, and that’s why they have “Motor Carrier” in their name. The states have more authority to regulate automobiles, but the only federal agency that creates rules to govern cars is the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
However, the FMCSA, and in particular, Administrator Ray Martinez, is focused on safety, and in response to drivers’ concerns about the vehicles around them, they created the “Our Roads, Our Safety” campaign.
Their first step was to find partners that have a deep understanding of the safety issues related to operating on our nation’s highways. The Women In Trucking Association (WIT) is one of those partners, but the group is very diverse. The America Bicycling Education Association, the American Motorcyclists Association, Choose Outdoors, Teens in the Driver Seat and the American Bus Association are a few of the groups represented. From trucks to buses, bikes to cycles and everything in between, there is a common thread that runs through each meeting. How do we educate the motorists sharing our roads?
The next step was to design the campaign which would include public safety announcements, billboards, TV and radio commercials and most importantly, materials for our industries to use when speaking to those who share our roads.
The FMCSA wisely understood the need to use real truck and bus drivers as well as motorcyclists, bicyclists, student drivers, and others who share the roads with commercial vehicles. Since the Women In Trucking Association has an Image Team prepared to share their stories, we suggested owner-operator, Ingrid Brown, to represent professional drivers. We are also thrilled that Dick Pingel, a charter member of WIT, was also selected as one of the featured drivers for the campaign.
Ingrid and Dick, along with the other transportation representatives were filmed, photographed and interviewed. Ingrid talked about how much she loves being a truck driver and how safety is important to her. Her four million miles give her credibility and the fact that she’s a minority in a career dominated by men helped us share the message the women can do this job and are valued and needed in the trucking industry.
The FMCSA created the campaign, “Our Roads, Our Safety,” to give us the materials to share with our families, our friends, our neighbors, and our schools. Everything you need is available at no charge on their website (https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ourroads). You can download radio spots, television commercials, social media content, tip sheets, infographics, and even postcards.
The agency is taking its message on the road and will be attending events across the nation to share these resources with those of us in the industry as well as those outside.
So, what can YOU do? Share the messages in your Twitter feed, your Facebook page, and add a link in your email signature. Take the tip sheet to your local school and offer to talk about safety. The tip sheet is a two-page document with instructions about a truck’s blind spots, stopping distances, wide turns and more. It’s surprising how many people really don’t understand why a truck has to make such a wide turn at an intersection because of the length of the trailer behind them.
The next time you hear a driver complain about the motorists around them, tell them to visit the FMCSA “Our Roads, Our Safety” website and download the materials and help educate the public. We’re all sharing the roads, and we need to understand how to make our highways safer for everyone. Thanks, FMCSA for creating this campaign.