road safety

Class is in, and it’s not just students who need a back-to-school refresher. So do professional drivers who must adapt to new routines to keep themselves, their cargo and school children safe on the roads.

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You may think distracted driving and DUIs cause the largest amount of traffic accidents each year—and you'd be right. But did you know that speeding is #3 on the list?

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Warmer weather means commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers will be dealing with crowded streets and highways. Since warmer weather also brings out more bicyclists, pedestrians and children at play, professional drivers must use extra caution. Use these 7 tips to share the road safely with bicycles, pedestrians and children.

1. Remember that bicycles are vehicles. Cyclists are asked to follow the same traffic laws as cars and trucks, so show them the same respect you would another driver. Yield to them as directed at stop signs, stop lights and intersections. Always give bicycles at least three feet of clearance before passing and watch for cyclists when you're getting in and out of your truck.

2. Be cautious making left and right turns. You know your tractor-trailer needs to make wide right-hand turns. Pedestrians, cyclists and children at play may not know this so take extra caution when making any right-hand turns. The same is true for left-hand turns—always look for pedestrians or cyclists before crossing traffic.

3. Watch crosswalks. Pedestrians have the right-of-way in crosswalks. If you're traveling through a neighborhood with crosswalks, drive slowly and be prepared to stop. Remember that on average trucks traveling 65 mph need two football fields to come to a complete rest, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

4. Know your limitations. Because your truck sits high, you may not see children at play or cyclists. They may be hidden by your truck's blind spots, or they could be playing behind your truck.

5. Stay extra-alert between 6 – 9 p.m. That's when more than one-fifth (21%) of fatal bicycle-motor vehicle crashes happen, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. July and August run the highest risk for these types of accidents.

6. Slow down. Children don't only cross the street using crosswalks. Cyclists don't always use reflectors or wear brightly colored clothing. Pedestrians don't always use flashlights when walking at night. Reducing your speed will help you be ready for anything.

7. Don't drive distracted. Busier roads mean more potential for danger. So never call, text or email while driving. And never drive after drinking alcohol. This is against FMCSA regulation.