“Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign offers practical safety tips to motorists
AUSTIN – TxDOT is reminding all drivers to take extra care when driving around trucks because crashes between passenger vehicles and 18-wheelers and other large trucks can lead to death or serious injury.
Thousands of large trucks and 18-wheelers tractor-trailers transport goods along busy Texas highways every day. Weighing 20 times more than an average car, “big rigs” require more time to accelerate and decelerate. For instance, an 80,000-pound, loaded 18-wheeler going 65 mph can take as much as the length of a football field to come to a complete stop, which is why motorists should avoid driving too closely or swerving in front of a large truck.
Large trucks also have more and larger blind spots than passenger vehicles do. Drivers should avoid these blind spots, which are located around the front, back and sides of trucks. If a motorist can’t see the truck driver in the truck’s side mirror, that truck driver also can’t see them or their vehicle.
To help keep everyone safe on the road, TxDOT asks motorists to give trucks plenty of room and observe the following safety tips when driving around large trucks:
• Stay away from a truck’s “No Zones,” or blind spot areas in which crashes are more likely to occur. No Zones include areas along each side of the truck, the space up to 20 feet in front of the cab and the area up to 200 feet behind the trailer.
• Don’t tailgate. Maintain a safe following distance. Be sure you can see the driver in the truck’s side mirror.
• Pass trucks safely by waiting until you can see both truck headlights in your rearview mirror before moving back into your lane. Pass a truck only when it’s legal and safe.
• Never cross behind a truck that is backing up. The truck driver cannot see you, and you risk being hit.
• Don’t squeeze between a truck and the curb. Trucks make wide right turns, and the driver may not see you.
Energy Sector risks
Drivers are especially at risk in Texas’s energy sectors. Oil and gas activity brings increased traffic and large trucks to production areas and surrounding communities. TxDOT’s “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign offers these safety tips for motorists in energy areas:
• Follow the posted speed limit and adjust your driving to match road conditions.
• Focus 100% on driving and put your phone away: no talking or texting when behind the wheel.
• Give large trucks plenty of space. Be patient and pass only when it’s safe and legal to do so.
• Obey stop signs and traffic signals.
• Never drive under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
• Always buckle up—drivers and passengers, day and night.
In 2021, more than 79,000 traffic crashes occurred in the state’s five major energy production areas—the Permian Basin, Eagle Ford Shale, Barnett Shale, Anadarko Basin and Haynesville/Bossier Shale—resulting in 1,119 deaths, a 20% increase over the previous year. Failure to control speed and driver inattention were the top reasons for crashes in these areas.
“Be Safe. Drive Smart.” is a key component of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel such as wearing a seat belt, driving the speed limit, never texting and driving and never driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Nov. 7, 2000, was the last deathless day on Texas roadways. #EndTheStreakTX asks all Texans to commit to driving safely to help end the streak of daily deaths.