Sharing the road safely with commercial vehicles

(NC) — Since the 1970s, the number of vehicles on Canada’s roads has increased by 80 per cent. Despite this dramatic increase in traffic, the number of road fatalities has been cut by more than half.

While every province and territory is responsible for highway safety by enforcing laws and maintaining highway infrastructure, Transport Canada is improving the safety of our roads by funding upgrades to parts of the national highway system. But better roads are not the only answer to our road safety challenges. Smarter driving is needed to keep our road safety records improving. Awareness of commercial vehicles is an important part of this.

In 1999, crashes involving commercial vehicles resulted in 556 fatalities and 11,591 injuries. According to Transport Canada, drivers of passenger vehicles need to be aware that commercial vehicles often manoeuvre much differently than cars or light trucks.

Learning about how different types of commercial vehicles operate can help drivers to better anticipate the time and distance commercial vehicles require for turning, changing lanes, speeding up, slowing down, and stopping — and this can prevent accidents.

For example, large commercial vehicles — such as tractor trailers — might have two or three times more power than passenger vehicles, but they must also pull thirty to forty times more weight. Commercial vehicles may need to accelerate through as many as ten gears to reach the speed limit, and take more than twice as much time and distance as a car to stop.

Large trucks and buses also make wide turns, and may first have to move in the opposite direction (left for a right-hand turn, right for a left-hand turn) in order to negotiate some corners safely. In addition, these vehicles have large blind spots, and passenger vehicles that get too close to a turning large truck or bus may not be visible.

To make Canadian highways safer, all drivers need to exercise skill, understanding and patience. In addition to encouraging Canadians to learn safer

driving habits, Transport Canada, along with the provinces and territories, is funding improvements to those parts of our national highway system that need immediate attention because of growing traffic and increased trade. These improvements, delivered through the $600 million Strategic Highway Infrastructure Program (SHIP), will result in a safer and more efficient highway system for all Canadians.

For more information on SHIP, and Government of Canada highway improvement programs in your area, visit http://www.tc.gc.ca.

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