Michigan, Washington target four-wheelers

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Michigan and Washington have launched programs to reduce truck crashes, but these efforts target four-wheelers.

The Michigan State Police Motor Carrier Division announced it would conduct several “Border to Border” enforcement operations on major freeways after an increase in truck crashes in 2004.

Officers will focus on driver behavior including speeding, improper lane use, following too closely, seat belt use, drug and alcohol use, driver fatigue and proper driver’s licenses. Research indicates the passenger vehicle driver is at fault in 70 percent to 80 percent of truck-car crashes.

Michigan is participating in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study. Federal officials have not released the final report yet, but preliminary data indicate that drivers are up to 10 times more likely to cause truck crashes than either vehicles or environments.

Annette Sandberg, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, has asked state enforcement officers to focus on driver factors in truck-car crashes.

Washington is conducting its pilot program to reduce truck-car collisions weekdays 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 11-22 and Sept. 19-30. “Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks” is that state’s response to federal concern over truck-car crashes and the fact that 62 percent of these collisions were the car driver’s fault.

Two interstate highways corridors were selected for intense, high-visibility enforcement and two others as controls.

The north corridor is Interstate 5 from the Starbird Road interchange in Skagit County north to Chuckanut Drive, just south of Bellingham in Whatcom County. The south corridor starts at the Scott Lake interchange on I-5 in Thurston County and ends at the State Road 512 interchange in Pierce County.

Local and state police will provide enforcement. Also, a trooper will ride in a decoy truck to report violations to officers in patrol cars, and the State Patrol Aviation Unit will work the corridors on enforcement days.

State officials are conducting a media campaign to raise four-wheeler awareness about giving sufficient room to trucks when passing or cutting in front of trucks.

Congress provided funding to the FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for this project in 2004.