Holiday-traffic highway safety PSAs fit for our four-wheeled friends

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Updated Nov 18, 2022
landstar drive fro five sticker
When Gary Buchs was trucking as owner-operator over a career that spanned decades, he used this “low-tech solution for following distance and speed and space management,” he said. Like so many of you, he hauled in a truck built well before whiz-bang factory-equipped radar, lane-departure warnings, and automatic braking became something of a standard for owners opting into the systems. He devised this simple following distance cheat, the sticker placed on the windshield in his line of sight to remind him how far to stay back from traffic ahead. The “Drive for Five” language on it refers to the zones around a truck traveling on the highway where at any moment a motorist may be lurking. The slogan is a “reminder that you want to drive safe to protect them. You don’t want to do anything to harm them.” Crucially, he also used it training new drivers in collaboration with various driver's ed programs to illustrate the distance it takes for a truck traveling at highway speeds to stop. Hear his tutorial of sorts for members of the motoring public on how to help truckers prevent high-speed highway cut-off events in the "Channel One-Nine #6: Driver's Ed" episode the 2020 Over the Road podcast series below.

Here comes the Thanksgiving holiday, here comes the four-wheeled traffic in places all around the nation that don't see quite as much most times of the year. The Haul Hero outfit this week sent around a series of tips to those in its networks that involve safety education for our passenger-vehicle-piloting fellow citizens, and my mind immediately went to a variety of articles that could easily serve similar purposes, whether a Christmas gift for that newly licensed driver (see operator Toby Bogard's "Semi Aware" book from almost a decade ago) or just a fun explainer around the importance of adequate following distance and other speed/space management (The "Driver's Ed" episode of 2020's Over the Road podcast, a coproduction of Overdrive and PRX's Radiotopia) ...

... a clear explanation of what it means when you hear "that farting sound" of an engine brake in close proximity to your four-wheeler on-highway (from the "Mechanics of trucking" brief explainer episode, answering listener questions) ...

... to efforts like this one in 2020 from the Arizona Department of Transportation

[Related: 'Be pro out there': More share-the-road resources]

The Haul Hero group, for its part, brought on operator Barry "Bear the Voice" Mathews with his top 7 suggestions. 

  1. barry matthewsBarry MathewsDon't ride alongside an 18 wheel truck for fear of tire tread or other materials flying loose.
  2. Pass with intent -- hesitation distracts truckers.
  3. Be aware of the many types of trucks on the road. Each truck is carrying very different freight, with different weights, tarps, fuel, refrigerated goods, livestock, and even trash. 
  4. Be cautious of high winds -- 18 wheelers carrying 80,000 pounds can quickly sway, causing passenger cars to swerve and become distracted, leading to accidents.
  5. Never assume a trucker sees you speeding up from behind them.
  6. Never cut off a trucker -- 80,000 pounds can't stop on a dime.
  7. Move lanes when a truck is off the side of the road to avoid getting close to the truck.

“Passenger drivers need to be reminded that long-haul truckers are working overtime to resolve supply chain issues throughout the country, which puts more trucks on the road,” said Mathews -- his “Bear the Voice” nickname is what he's known by to more than 350,000 folks following his daily TikTok observations. “With the backup at ports causing serious delays and companies needing their products now, drivers, and particularly new younger drivers, are under real pressures to get their loads delivered. This creates even more potential concerns for families hitting the road over the holidays.

“Treat the big trucks on the highways with respect and caution,” Mathews urged. “If you pay attention to these tips I’ve learned from 2 million miles on the road, you’ll get to grandma’s house safe and sound.”

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Not bad for a highway-safety PSA of sorts -- what might you add? 

More road-ready resources for the four-wheelers in your life: 
**New 'share the road' video aimed at motorists
**For those outside trucking: Professional drivers' issues more complicated than they seem
**CB still meets needs even if its 'glory days' have long passed
**Credit where it's deserved: Motorist says she's alive today on account of a few good pros

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