ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Trucking Association (MTA) has announced a year-long effort to provide information and training to its members and their drivers to improve road safety.
The “Keep Both Hands on the Wheel” campaign will focus on reducing distracted driving by engaging truckers, their employers, contractors and the public to follow safe driving habits.
“Safety is the trucking industry’s primary concern and Minnesota Trucking Association members and their drivers are committed to continuing the statewide trend of increasingly safer roads,” said John Hausladen, president of MTA. “Though our members are continually focused on safety and education, in 2010 we’re urging truckers to make a specific commitment to ‘Keep Both Hands on the Wheel.’”
“Keep Both Hands on the Wheel” will encourage drivers to avoid activities that take their hands off the wheel and divert their attention. The campaign will feature Web-based programs and in-person training for member companies and drivers. MTA also will provide members, truckers and the general public with tips to stay alert, such as:
Understand and follow current Minnesota law, including the ban on texting.
• Avoid using a hand-held mobile device while driving. When a mobile phone is necessary, use hands-free technology or stop at a safe place to complete the call.
• Minimize eating and drinking while driving. Breaks for food and liquid while driving keep drivers focused during longer hauls.
• Avoid fixating on non-driving objects. This includes outside objects, such as billboards or buildings, and in-vehicle distractions, such as paperwork or adjusting the radio.
Safer roads will help ease the economic impact on families, businesses and the entire state. Road accidents not only cost lives, they affect insurance rates, shipping and other costs. In the end, safer roads benefit everyone. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS), reducing accidents and traffic deaths requires drivers to make safer, smarter decisions behind the wheel. Distraction is often a contributing factor to fatal crashes or serious injury.
The DPS attributes motorist education campaigns with contributing to a steady decline in road injuries and fatalities.
“You can make as many laws as you want, but safe driving starts with taking responsibility for your driving habits, keeping your hands on the wheel and staying focused on the road and drivers around you,” Hausladen said.
Data published by DPS recorded 287 fewer truck-related crashes in 2008 compared to 2007. Additionally, fatalities involving large trucks dropped 17.8 percent in 2008. Meanwhile, mileage logged by trucks over the two decades has increased 70 percent as commercial trucking remains a critical link for Minnesota’s local economies.
Hausladen said he expects the safety trend to continue when 2009 data is made available later this year. But he hopes that a proactive awareness campaign about the dangers of distracted driving will make Minnesota’s roads even safer in the years to come.
“Truck drivers are among the safest drivers on Minnesota roads, but there is constantly room for improvement,” said Hausladen. “This campaign is an opportunity to continue the trucking industry’s commitment to safety while also doing our part to make Minnesota’s roads and highways safe for everyone.”
Barb Kampbell of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.