It doesn’t take much to get professional truckers talking about mishaps caused by the driving public. Especially distracted driving incidents. One Midwestern state – Iowa – recorded more than 15,000 distracted driving accidents between 2001 and 2012. The number increases every year.
Distractions are hard enough to control because of the explosion of cell phone calls, loud music and texting among youthful drivers. But what about situations where a trucker doesn’t even know a car is behind him because its driver is following too closely to be seen from the cab? In a growing number of school districts, local professional truck drivers are pitching in to help driver-education instructors get a key message across: those stickers you see on many semi trailers aren’t kidding – “If you can’t see my mirrors,, I can’t see you”. Even then, it’s a challenge.
Making teen drivers aware of the vision limitations at the front end of eighty feet of steel and wheels is what these truckers are trying to do. Witness this exchange between driver Guido Miller and 14-year-old student driver Kacey Fettkether of Dunkerton, IA:
Miller: (asks her to check the mirrors to locate her instructor’s car )
Fettkether: “OK, so where’s the car?”
Miller: “It’s not an optical illusion. It is back there.”
The truck is stopped on a city street and the vehicle in question is parked on the cab’s right side. As far as the mirrors in the cab are concerned, though, it’s disappeared. Which means imminent danger when the driver of an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer can’t see a 3,100 pound car that’s following too closely.
Miller, whose 15-year-old son is also a student driver, has a vested interest in helping teens understand the vision limitations of big rig operators when they get behind the wheel. Miller has experienced only one truck-car accident and that was back in 1998. Still, he said, “There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t have at least one incident”.
His efforts are eye-opening to student drivers who thought the person driving an 18-wheeler must surely have the best view on the road. The disappearing car illusion is being remembered by the teens who experienced it.
“I thought with the mirrors you could see almost everything,” Fettkether said, “But you can’t