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CHP launches big-rig truck safety program

April 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The California Highway Patrol launched its Public Awareness of Commercial Trucks (PACT) program on Wednesday.That's a long title for: Watch those trucks on the road.

The CHP says three quarters of all truck-involved fatalities are caused by car drivers.

The goal of the program is to educate drivers about what they can do to avoid crashes with commercial vehicles.

At a press conference in Irvine to announce the Safety Through Education project, the CHP showed very graphic pictures of crashes involving trucks and smaller vehicles.

CHP Assistant Chief Robert Clark said the CHP joins with the California Truckers Association in the education effort.

Clark said in 2007, there were 7,262 collisions involving trucks. 56% of the crashes were caused by passenger vehicles.

"The operators of passenger vehicles were proven to be more dangerous on the highway than our commercial operators," said Clark. Three-hundred and twenty people were killed in those collisions.

Clark said passenger vehicle drivers caused 77 percent of fatal traffic collisions involving commercial trucks.

The program will provide seminars to groups and businesses on vehicle safety around commercial trucks.

Clark said the second part of the program involves aggressive enforcement that will include specially marked CHP patrol cars, helicopters, and seven strike force teams in Orange County.

Clark urged drivers to "avoid the no zones," areas where the truck driver cannot see passenger vehicles.

"If you cannot see the truck driver in his mirror, then he cannot see you," said Clark.

He suggested drivers avoid unnecessary and unsafe lane changes.

"Those last-minute lane changes where you stop in front of an 80,000-pound vehicle where you give them 10 feet to stop, those collisions can be disastrous, " said Clark.


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