Sharing the Road with Large Trucks – ATA’s Safety Tips & Distracted Driving

Professional truck drivers make up some of the most trained and experienced drivers on America’s highways. The highway is their workplace. But, the trucking industry wants all drivers on the road to develop safe driving habits so that everyone – truck driver or not – will reach their destination safely.

The American Trucking Association’s Share the Road highway safety program has promoted safe driving habits across the nation’s highways since 1986. With Share the Road’s elite team of professional drivers; ATA spreads the trucking industry’s life-saving message to all motorists. Last month, ATA’s Share the Road program took part in the 34th annual Lifesavers Conference to promote safe driving habits. From distracted motorists and pedestrians to new technologies and drugged driving, the Share the Road truck drivers taught safe-driving lessons and new highway safety initiatives and challenges.

On its website, ATA also offers motorists three ways to Share the Road safely. If all drivers practice these safe driving techniques, it will lead to safer roads, fewer accidents, less litigation, and we will all reach our destinations safely.

1. Following Distances: When you’re traveling behind a truck, stay about 20-25 car lengths behind it. This may seem like a lot, but since large trucks obscure visibility far more than smaller vehicles, that much room is needed so that you have enough time to react if road conditions change – such as debris thrown in the road or traffic suddenly stops. A rule of thumb is that if you can see the truck’s side mirrors, you are in a good place and distance.

2. Passing a Truck: When you pass a tractor trailer and you are moving back into its lane, make sure you can see the truck’s headlights in your rear view mirror before you cut back into the lane. This will allow the tractor trailer enough space to slow down or stop if something happens. A fully loaded tractor trailer weighs up to 80,000 pounds and can take a length of a football field to stop. Truck drivers also leave space in front of them in heavy traffic so they have enough stopping distance. The ATA encourages drivers not to fill in that space and take up that safety buffer that the driver is trying to maintain.

3. Distracted Driving: A common cause in today’s motor vehicle accidents is distracted driving, and with last month being Distracted Driving Awareness Month, ATA is calling special attention to all drivers by offering five ways each driver can maintain focus and get home safely.

  • “Out of sight, out of mind.” We all want to immediately respond to a call or message, but it is best to keep your phone on silent and out of sight while driving. This will avoid temptation.
  • “Never text and drive.” Very few driving habits are worse than texting and driving. According to ATA, taking your eyes off the road to send a one-word text takes at least 5 seconds. If you’re going 60 mph on the highway, your vehicle travels more than the length of a football field in 5 seconds. A lot can happen in that short 5 seconds – an animal can run in front of your car or another driver might change lanes and hit the brakes. The text can wait.
  • “Be prepared to drive before getting behind the wheel.” Eat breakfast before you leave for work and read the news once you get to work. Driving is not a time to be multitasking.
  • “Properly secure every item in your vehicle.” Don’t place anything on your lap or near the driver’s side floor because items can slide under your brake pedal and prevent you from stopping. You don’t want something to fall to the floor or spill while you’re traveling 60 mph down the highway.
  • “Set a good example for young drivers and speak up when uncomfortable.” Young drivers have grown up in this technology-driven age and may not know the distracted driving risks. Talk to young drivers about why it’s important to stay focused and if you’re a passenger in a vehicle and the driver is distracted by their phone, say something or offer to type the text and send it yourself.

You can learn more about ATA’s Share the Road program and safe driving tips at

Read about the Lifesavers Conference at

Anna Newell is an associate attorney at Roberts Perryman. Anna’s practice focuses on transportation, insurance coverage and defense.

Anna Newell

Roberts Perryman has been a leader in transportation defense for over 50 years with offices in St. Louis and Springfield, MO and Belleville, IL.

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1 Response to Sharing the Road with Large Trucks – ATA’s Safety Tips & Distracted Driving

  1. judy wilson says:

    I liked the tips you posted for avoiding distracted driving around large trucks. It seems important for everyone to pay attention to other drivers on the road. You’re right about how making sure that any items in a car or truck should be safely secured. That would be a good way to prevent collisions.

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