The mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is not just truck and bus safety; it also includes the safety of those operating around America's commercial vehicles.
In fact, most crashes involving a commercial vehicle --nearly 70 percent-- are not caused by the truck or bus driver. So one of FMCSA's ongoing safety efforts is educating non-commercial drivers about the handling differences between cars and large trucks and motorcoaches. Young drivers in particular need to learn how to maneuver safely near large vehicles and avoid creating situations that endanger themselves and others. It's not always something they pick up in driver's ed courses, but out there on the road, it's lifesaving information.
That's why, in May, FMCSA kicked off Global Youth Traffic Safety Month by joining forces with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), Fed Ex Ground, and the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) in a “Teens & Trucks – Share the Road Safely” event. Near the National Mall, troopers from the Maryland State Police led demonstrations to show students from NOYS how to safeguard themselves as drivers, bicyclists or pedestrians around big trucks.
As FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said, "At DOT, the safety of teens –whether they are driving, walking or bicycling – is a top priority. For good reason--traffic crashes are the leading cause of death and disabling injury of teens and young adults. When teens are involved in 10 percent of fatal crashes but make up less than 5 percent of all licensed drivers, we all must join together to drive down this tragic death toll."
At US DOT, we are tackling this, in part, by continuing our crusade against distracted driving that began five years ago. In 2012 alone, more than 3,300 people were killed and 421,000 were injured in distracted driving crashes. Our youngest drivers have the highest proportion of distraction-related crashes each year.
Of equal concern is the fact that one out of ten pedestrians killed in traffic crashes involving trucks were people age 20 and younger.
Whether they're drivers, pedestrians, or bicyclists, we're asking young people to be mindful of trucks and buses:
- Stay out of their blind spots;
- Yield the right of way to trucks and buses;
- Wear bright clothing to be more easily seen;
- Don’t dart across roadways or jaywalk;
- Don’t text around vehicles; and
- Pay attention to traffic signs.
It's a simple, sensible message to young people: stay focused, behave predictably, and be seen.
That's the message the young safety advocates from NOYS took home with them from Washington, DC, to share with their peers across the country, and they're hard at work in their communities right now doing just that.
But parents and other more experienced adults can help, too. Educate the teens and young drivers you know about safety near large vehicles. Show them the demonstration video from CVSA. And, most importantly, always model safe practices when you're driving, walking, or bicycling.
As Global Youth Traffic Safety Month continues, help us keep young people from endangering themselves. The fight for traffic safety is a fight we can win.