MSHP offers tips on how to avoid a crash with a tractor-trailer

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JEFFERSON CITY – There were 120 people killed and 3,732 injured in accidents involving large commercial vehicles last year, according to MoDOT.

Starting on Sunday law enforcement officers all over the state will be out patrolling in high volume and will, “actively pull passenger vehicles and trucks over for unsafe behavior,” A MoDOT news release said.

"It's a time of year when we are at the tail end of a lot of travels going on and it's before the winter season starts when you see a lot of people exhibiting bad driving behaviors, especially in icy weather, wet weather, where they're tailgating trucks or cutting trucks off," said Highway Safety Program Administrator Scott Jones.

Officers will be focusing on major highways as a part of Operation Safe Driver Week from Oct. 16-22. 

"Law enforcement agencies throughout the state will do typical traffic enforcement and they will use grant funds that we have to do what we call high visibility enforcement," Jones said.

 Officers will be looking for:

  • Speeding
  • Tailgating trucks too closely
  • Unfastened seat belts
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Missouri State Highway Patrol Sergeant Scott White said drivers need to have patience with trucks.

"People have to remember that trucks are not cars. Commercial motor vehicles sometimes have to go through ten gears just to get up to the speed limit. It also depends on the cargo, they can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and be almost 90 feet long," White said.

MoDOT and MSHP have provided these tips for driving safely around large commercial trucks:

  • When passing a truck, make sure you can see the very top of the truck in your rear view mirror before getting back into your original lane
  • Stay out of the “No Zone.” Large trucks have long blind spots on either side and up to 200 feet behind the truck
  • Pass only on the left side
  • Make sure you can see the truck's mirrors
  • Do not follow too closely; large trucks cannot move or react quickly like small cars can.

White recommends that drivers give trucks plenty of room to stop.

"A standard vehicle needs about 130 to 140 feet to stop at 55 miles-per-hour and a large commercial motor vehicle needs at least 400 feet," he said.

Both White and Jones said seat belts are essential and can be the difference between life and death in an accident.