More than 3,800 people died in 2015 in wrecks involving large trucks according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The study found the main problem is the vulnerability of people in smaller cars.
Kennedy Upshaw sits behind the wheel of a semi-truck five days a week for 14 hours a day.
“I mean it’s long hours, but it pays off,” says Upshaw.
However, Upshaw says it’s not exhaustion that makes the days dangerous.
“When cars jump in front of us, we can’t stop on the dime,” says Upshaw.
He says it is important for drivers to realize they are carrying anywhere between 40,000-50,000 pounds on the back of their truck, so they cannot stop quickly.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, loaded tractor-trailers take 20 to 40 percent farther to stop and it can take even longer when the roads are wet and slippery.
“They teach you the basics like about the parts of the truck, what to look for,” says Upshaw.
Upshaw says training for a commercial driver’s license cannot prepare drivers for everything.
“We got cameras on all our trucks so when you have the careless drivers driving they jump in front of the 18-wheelers, they want to blame us. We're not the ones at fault majority of the time,” says Upshaw.
Kirt Solesbee has driven a semi-truck for 19 years.
“There might be a few bad apples out here, but a lot of it is not truck drivers. It’s the common traffic,” says Solesbee.
But the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety lists driver fatigue as a top cause of truck accidents. The study says surveys show that many drivers violate federal regulations that say they can only drive up to 11 hours at a stretch.
“You need to pull over. You know rest areas are all over the interstate,” says Solesbee.
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