Teen drivers initiate over 75 percent of incidents involving heavy trucks, according to research.

Now the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI)’s Division of Freight, Transit, and Heavy Vehicle Safety has developed and implemented a safety education and outreach program called “Sharing the Road with Trucks” which aims to teach new car drivers safe practices from the beginning to create a generation of drivers that know how to safely drive near a truck.

“We are putting the research into practice,” said Matt Camden, team leader for VTTI’s Research to Practice and Outreach group.

“With the research we’ve conducted at VTTI, we’re leveraging naturalistic driving data to understand how people drive around trucks and the consequences of unsafe driving. This program putting these lessons learned into practice to help a specific group of drivers — teens — remain safe while driving passenger vehicles around these larger commercial vehicles from the beginning when they start driving.”

The VTTI’s Sharing the Road Team will travel to high schools in Virginia, West Virginia, and Delaware to educate new teen drivers. Participants will have the opportunity to see a semi-truck up close and experience the large blind spots from a semi-truck driver’s perspective.

The program also addresses five key strategies for sharing the road:

  • Don’t hang out in the no-zone
  • Don’t cut trucks off
  • Maintain a safe following distance
  • Properly passing a truck
  • Don’t get squeezed