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What advice would you give to teenage drivers about operating around trucks?

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -In response to the growing number of teenager deaths in the US from accidents with commercial vehicles, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has partnered to create a new training...






MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -In response to the growing number of teenager deaths in the US from accidents with commercial vehicles, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has partnered to create a new training program called “Teens and Trucks.”

Working in collaboration with the Arizona Trucking Association, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the American Trucking Associations and related industry organizations, the program aims to educate teens about safe driving practices around commercial vehicles (for more on the program, visit www.teensandtrucks.com).

While it’s no secret that truck drivers have long lobbied for the public to be better educated about big rigs, we dropped by the Husky Truck Stop in Mississauga, Ont. to find out what truckers think the most important message for teenage drivers should be.

Wilma Katerberg, a driver with TransX out of Winnipeg, Man., says the most important lesson for young drivers to learn is that if they can’t see the truck’s mirrors, the truck driver cannot see them. However, Katerberg says truckers being cut off by cars is a major issue as well, so instilling patience in new drivers is key.

“What happens so regularly out there is that the vehicles are cutting right in front of you. You are allowing a little bit of space, and they are just pulling in there,” she says. “You just have to give trucks their room…You are taking your life into your hands making such crazy moves. Drivers are impatient. So be patient.”

Kent, an owner/operator with Trucking Hallways out of Ridgetown, Ont., says that poor driving habits from teenage drivers can be a big problem for tractor-trailers.

“There are a lot of people cutting us off or tailgating; this is obviously because of the poor knowledge about trucks,” said the trucker of 15 years. “They do not get trained properly and they do not really care. The important thing is to get proper training and then following the safety rules.”

Kenneth Bickham, a driver with Andrews Transport in Louisiana, says that teenage drivers often think they’re invincible and don’t realize how dangerous large trucks really are.

“You should not take anything for granted; you have to check everything, and you have to be as cautious as possible and drive for you and the next man,” he told Truck News. “Just be cautious. Take no chances with a big truck. Pulling out in front of one -he cannot stop or maneuver or as fast as you can. A big truck cannot stop as fast as a car or pick-up; it will not take off as fast. It is heavy and it is deadly dangerous; you cannot take a chance with them.”

Larry Lacroix, an owner/operator with Motrucks in Moonbeam, Ont., says that just as important as teaching young car drivers the safe way to operate around big rigs is to ensure that young truckers are aware of the dangers of the profession.

“For teenagers coming off the street and jumping into these things, they’ve got a lot to learn. You have got to know the safety rules first. My son comes with me for 23 weeks, takes a week off and comes back with me again. He is learning the ropes and being trained,” he said. “The course with Fifth Wheel teaches him defensive driving, and that is the most important thing -defensive driving -with these big rigs. A lot of companies do not see that.”


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