Mainstream gets facts right - this time - on truck wrecks

| 1/19/2006

Although trucking has always struggled to have its issues covered in a fair and balanced way, at least one major mainstream newspaper has picked up on and accurately reported one of the industry’s biggest misconceptions.

On Thursday, Jan. 19, The Kansas City Star published a front-page a story titled “Trucks, cars share the road – and responsibility.” In it, reporter Brad Cooper emphasizes the point that in most car-truck wrecks, the truck is not at fault.

Specifically, Cooper reported statistics for Kansas . In a review of 109 wrecks between 1994 and 1998, trucks were only at fault 28 percent of the time, according to The Star.

Cooper also makes mention of Ticket Aggressive Cars and Trucks, or TACT, a pilot program started by the Washington State Patrol. In the program, patrol officers ride along in the cab with truckers, and radio ahead to a patrol car when they see a four-wheeler driving unsafely around the truck.

The program received a $600,000 grant from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, as well as administrative support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission and the Washington Trucking Association.

The program – which was started after a trooper noticed that the majority of fatal accidents involving big trucks and four-wheelers were not the fault of the truckers – gave officers the opportunity to catch dangerous drivers in the act as they cut off or drive recklessly around big rigs. Originally, the program was held on a smaller scale and was called Step Up and Ride, but the state expanded it into a larger project after receiving its grant money.

The ride-along portion of the program concluded on Oct. 3, 2005, at which point it was re-evaluated. And, according to some recently released statistics, it was a success. During the three-month program, local, county and state officers issued 3,520 citations, 1,478 warnings and spoke with nearly 5,000 motorists.

However, a spokeswoman for WSP said the numbers had not yet been fully evaluated, nor was there any indication yet of whether the program would be implemented in other states.

Tickets were issued for speeding, following too close, unsafe lane changes, failing to signal, left-lane violations, aggressive driving and reckless driving, according to WSP.

Keep an eye on the February 2006 issue of Land Line Magazine for a closer look at the pilot program, and its chances of going nationwide in the future.

– By Aaron Ladage, staff writer