Teens promise to take care around trucks

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Teenagers from the National Capital region on Thursday, June 2, pledged to make this summer safer for all drivers by giving large trucks plenty of room, avoiding their blind spots and signing a “No Texting Promise” during a truck safety demonstration organized by national safety officials and families of distracted driving crash victims.

Standing beside a 53-foot long tractor trailer in front of Walt Whitman High School, officials representing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the National Organization for Youth Safety and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance spoke to students from Maryland and the District of Columbia about the critical importance of driving safely around big trucks.

“We want everyone to be safe, but as newer drivers, teens must adhere to a few simple rules,” says Anne Ferro, FMCSA administrator. “They are: buckle up, don’t drink and drive, don’t speed, don’t text or use your phone, and steer clear of a truck’s blind spots.”

The latest data from U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System show that the deadliest days of the year for teens ages 15-19 are in the months of May, June, July and August. During these four months, nearly twice as many teens died on the roads each day as compared to the rest of the year – for an average of nearly 16 deaths per day (15.9) – compared to an average of nearly nine deaths (8.8) per day during the year as a whole.

Individuals in the 16 to 24 age group have the highest traffic crash death rate in the county. Between 2005 and 2009 (the most recent year for which data are available), nearly 4,000 people from this age group were killed in crashes involving large trucks.

“Do not expect that having a driver’s license is a right that comes without responsibility or risk,” says Steve Keppler, CVSA executive director. “Be accountable for your actions, spread the word to your friends and parents, and help create a culture of safety. Most importantly, take the driving task seriously. You never know the impact you can have that ultimately could save your life or someone else’s.”

Following the presentation by the speakers, students were given a demonstration of the tractor-trailer’s “No Zones” by a member of the Maryland State Police. Students also signed a “No Texting Promise” poster. The “Teens and Trucks” educational tool kit, including radio and television public service spots, is available for downloading free of charge at www.cvsa.org/programs/teens_and_trucks_toolkit.aspx or at www.fmcsa.dot.gov.