A common complaint from truck drivers is that other drivers on the highways do not know how to drive around big rigs. They cut in front, hang out in blind spots, or follow too closely. You name it and an auto driver has probably done it.
Just like there are special classes to take to obtain a motorcycle license in most states, I believe that driving around trucks should be a required curriculum of any driver-training program. Yet it’s not.
But Trucker Buddy International, which operates the popular Trucker Buddy program for elementary school students, has created the Trucking Mentors program.
Trucking Mentors will visit a local high school once or twice a year to teach young drivers how important it is to drive safely around a big rig.
“I believe that as an industry we have a responsibility to help our communities understand how to be safe around a truck and continue to improve our image. That is especially important for teens beginning to take the responsibility of driving a car,” said Randy Schwartzenburg, executive director, Trucker Buddy International. “Trucking Mentors will not only save lives but will increase respect between all the parties. Having both Trucker Buddies and Trucking Mentors teaching students about our industry not only helps the students drive more safely but helps everyone understand our industry’s impact on our nation. Saving lives, improving our image and building respect are why launching Trucking Mentors is so important.”
I couldn’t agree more. Statistics have shown that as many as 80% of fatal accidents involving a truck are not the truck driver’s fault. That’s approximately 3,500 people each year whose lives could be saved.
If states don’t want to keep those people alive, then the industry must figure out ways to do that. Trucking Mentors is one way to put a dent into those figures and improve the image of trucking along the way.
Trucker Buddy will provide background checks on all potential mentors, so schools can be assured the driver will be high quality. There is no charge to the mentor or the participating school.
According to Trucker Buddy, there are 2,600 Trucker Buddies in the U.S. Many truckers cannot participate in the Trucker Buddies program because of their driving schedules. But they can probably make time to visit a high school once or twice a year. Let’s see if we can surpass that 2,600 and get a mentor into as many schools as possible.
Young lives depend on it.
(If you are a driver interested in becoming a mentor or are a school in search of a mentor, you can learn more about the program at www.truckingmentors.org.)