By Stephen Goodrich, UDOT Motor Carrier Division
Commercial drivers often share their concerns about safe driving Port of Entry agents throughout the State. They ask if anything is being done to build awareness on ways the general public can learn to drive safely around big trucks.
Our answer is “yes!” Through the use of an FMCSA Motor Carrier Safety Administration Program (MCSAP) grant, UDOT is in schools across the State teaching soon-to-be-drivers how to drive “Truck Smart.” But even with grant monies, the program would not work without the support of the trucking industry – many of you in the association.
Truck Smart takes UDOT trainers, Katie Lindley and Natalie Lovell, into High School Driver Education classrooms all over the State. What makes the class even more successful is when one of you join them by taking or sending a truck to the school, giving the students a hands on experience. When we can put a student in the driver’s seat of a big truck, their eyes are opened quickly, especially when they cannot see the cars parked alongside the truck because of the large “No-Zones” or blind spots trucks have.
After a walk around the truck, a chance to sit in the seat, and a select few blow the horn, they go back to the classroom for instruction on No-Zones, how trucks stop, how not to cut off a truck, and how trucks turn. We also tell them why we need trucks on our highways and why there are so many on Utah’s roads. The kids and the school instructors really like the class.
A pre-and-post- class quiz are given to evaluate what students are learning. Their scores begin in the low 60’s and by the end of class they score in the high 90’s. Many instructors send a quiz home for parents as homework or extra credit assignment. The student administers the test to parents and return it to their instructor for credit.
During the 2015-2016 school year, 382 classes were taught Truck Smart. That touched 11,573 students plus their parents. Classes were taught in 49 high schools. And the trucking industry – you – provided 36 carriers. That’s a truck to nearly every class, resulting in more than 700 hours volunteered by those 36 carriers.
We thank you for your wonderful support and the commercial drivers, safety managers and company owners who came to the aid of teaching these students how to stay safe and out of your way on the road.
If you can support this valuable program, please call Terry Smith at the Association (801-973-9370). We appreciate the partnership in saving heartache and lives on Utah’s roads.