CVSA’s ‘Teens & Trucks’ campaign talks to novice drivers

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The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has announced a new targeted strategy to reduce deaths related to commercial motor vehicle crashes by talking with an unlikely, yet critical, group – teenagers. Teens comprise six percent of licensed drivers, yet they are involved in 12 percent of traffic fatalities in the United States.

“While truck and bus drivers do contribute to some traffic crashes, research shows that too many drivers of passenger cars, especially young people ages 16 to 24 years old, unnecessarily endanger themselves and others by failing to recognize that large CMVs and cars differ in their handling characteristics,” says Stephen A. Keppler, CVSA’s interim executive director. “As a result of these unsafe actions, behaviors of the passenger vehicle driver are the critical reason behind most traffic crashes involving large CMVs and passenger vehicles.” CVSA says there were 5,390 such teen fatalities from 2003 through 2007.

To reduce such deaths, CVSA developed “Teens & Trucks,” a training program in collaboration with Arizona Trucking Association, Arizona Department of Public Safety, American Trucking Associations and related industry organizations. The goal of the program is to help educate teens about safe driving practices around commercial vehicles. Funding support for the program’s development has been provided in part by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

“A teen driver’s inexperience, inattention and false sense of invincibility behind the wheel are all too often a deadly combination, especially around big trucks and buses,” says FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “This program is a great new resource for parents, schools and enforcement groups for raising teens’ awareness of the dangers of driving unsafely around trucks.”

The Teens & Trucks Program, part of CVSA’s Operation Safe Driver initiative, is dedicated to improving commercial and noncommercial driver behavior and performance through effective enforcement, education and awareness strategies.

“It is especially important for teen drivers to understand the unique operating characteristics of large trucks so – from the very outset – they can learn and use the skills necessary to share the road safely,” says Rob Abbott, vice president of safety policy with the American Trucking Associations. “Bad habits can be hard to break, so providing this training to drivers in their formative years is particularly valuable.”

For more information about “Teens & Trucks” and how parents, educators and others can get involved, go to www.teensandtrucks.com. The Teens & Trucks Program – including instructor manuals, student workbooks, DVD and one-page handout – all is provided free of charge and is available to order online.