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Big Rigs Drive Big Risk For Passenger Vehicles
Published  08/30/2011 | 2011

IINC, CHP, SDPD and CTA Urge Increased Driver Awareness this Labor Day Weekend

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When a big rig truck and cars collide, the laws of physics determine the outcome. Most often, the passenger vehicle bears the brunt of the damage.
The Insurance Information Network of California, the California Highway Patrol, the San Diego Police Department and the California Trucking Association have joined forces to focus attention on truck and passenger vehicle driver safety this Labor Day weekend. In a live demonstration held today at Balboa Park, expert drivers highlighted the dangers of big rig blind spots and their physical stopping distance, which is much greater than that of a passenger car. In advance of the holiday weekend, CHP officers also reinforced the need for drivers to safely share the road with big trucks.
Trucks often weigh 20-to-30 times more than an average car and have a harder time maneuvering around an emergency situation. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that 3,163 people died in truck collisions in 2009.  Of these deaths, 14 percent were truck occupants and 70 percent occupied non-commercial cars and trucks. The CHP also estimates that at least half of the 17,000 car-versus-big rig collisions in 2009 were caused by drivers of the cars.
“Motorists need to know that sharing the road with a big rig requires not only patience , but also an understanding of how to recognize and avoid trucks’ blind spots,” said IINC Executive Director Candysse Miller. “Truckers in California maintain the highest standards of safety and need the help of passenger drivers to keep the roads safe,” added CTA president Al Garcia.  
“Big rig trucks also drive on our city streets and drivers need to use the same caution as they do on the highways,” said SDPD Assistant Chief Manny Guaderrama. “The number of trucks using the California highway system will inevitably increase over the coming years,” said CHP Border

Division Chief Jim Abele. “For that reason, the CHP is working to create public awareness about driving around commercial trucks; and thus, minimizing truck-involved collisions and fatalities.”
The CHP urges motorists to understand these basics of sharing the road with big rigs:

  • Allow plenty of room when changing lanes in front of a truck;
  • Pass trucks quickly and don't linger beside a truck;
  • Pass a truck on the left, not on the right, because a truck's blind spot on the right runs the length of the trailers and extends out three lanes;
  • Allow a lot of room around trucks. Try to leave a 10-car length gap when in front of a truck and 20-25 car lengths when behind a truck;
  • Check a truck's mirrors. If you are following a truck and you cannot see the driver's face in the truck's side mirrors, the truck driver cannot see you; and;
  • Allow trucks adequate space to manuever. Trucks make wide turns at intersectionsand require additional lanes to turn.

IINC is a nonprofit, non-lobbying communications association representing the property/casualty insurance industry. For more information, visit
Established in 1934, the CTA serves the businesses that operate trucks providing goods and services to California.  More information is available at
For more information about the CHP, visit
For more information about the SDPD, visit

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
California Highway Patrol
San Diego Police Department
California Trucking Association