SEATTLE, (Aug. 18, 2005) — Washington State launched recently a pilot project that will place police officers in transport trucks to observe how four-wheel operators react to trucks on freeways.
The Seattle Times reported last month that the Washington Traffic Safety Commission has received a $600,000 grant to complete this “first of its kind” study in Thurston and Whatcom counties.
According to the newspaper, about 600 people between 1990 and 2003 are killed or and injured in crashes involving cars and heavy trucks. Only 10 percent of all roadway fatalities in the US involve commercial trucks. The driver of the car is at fault in 61 percent of car/truck accidents in Washington.
The study grew from a Washington State Patrol initiative two years ago, called Step Up and Ride, in which troopers rode in trucks to watch motorists interact with trucks and to cite them when they broke the law, the Seattle Times states.
County and city law-enforcement officers will join state troopers during the enforcement period, which runs through September. Researchers will measure the number of times car drivers cut off, tailgate or speed around trucks, as well as the number of times truckers commit violations.
A report on the Washington study will be given to Congress early next year. A similar program has been underway for a couple years in Nova Scotia. As reported earlier this year, Warren Transport in Bridgewater, N.S., and the province’s South Shore RCMP Traffic Services teamed up to give the Mounties a first-hand look at the hazards a truck driver faces each day on Nova Scotia’s busy Highway 103.
“As a traffic unit, we are responsible for crashes, collisions, and fatalities on the road and unfortunately some of those involve commercial vehicles,” explains RCMP Sergeant Jeff Wells. “We often receive complaints from the general public about truck drivers and even complaints from truck drivers about the general public. This is a great way for us to see things first hand.”
— with files from Seattle Times
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