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Troopers ‘Blitz’ New Tampa Area High Schools

The Florida Highway Patrol was out on Jan. 24 educating young drivers about highway safety.

Young drivers at Wharton and Freedom high schools got a lesson in highway safety today, Jan. 24, courtesy of the Florida Highway Patrol and some friends in the trucking industry.

A “No-Zone Blitz” was conducted to teach youthful motorists the ins and outs of safety when traveling near tractor trailers. During this morning’s blitz, troopers and members of the Florida Trucking Association visited 13 high schools throughout Hillsborough County to teach road safety skills, especially as they relate to driving around tractor trailers.

“Sharing the road safely with large trucks can be a challenge for anyone, but it is especially challenging to new drivers,” Mary Lou Rajchel, president and CEO of the Florida Trucking Association, said in a highway patrol media release. “To ease this apprehension and educate young, new drivers we provide education on the operating characteristics of full size tractor trailers, as well as the large blind spots that exist.”

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The National Safety Council says 10 teens died daily in vehicle crashes in 2009 in the United States alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says seven teens between the ages of 16 and 19 died daily in motor vehicle crashes in 2010.

“The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16- to 19-year-olds than among any other age group,” the CDC’s website says. “In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.”

These figures have prompted authorities to increase safety demonstrations, such as Thursday’s “No-Zone” lessons. No-Zones are the areas around a tractor trailer that motorists should avoid to help prevent accidents.

To send the message home, students even had the chance to get inside a big rig to “see firsthand the blind spots around tractor-trailers where cars ‘disappear’ from a truck driver's view,” the release said. These blind spots also apply to other large vehicles, such as buses.

No-Zone Safety Tips from FHP

Here’s what the highway patrol says all motorists – not just young ones – should look out for in regard to No-Zones:

SIDE NO-ZONES - Don't "hang out" on either side of trucks or buses!

They have big blind spots on both sides. If you can't see the driver's face in his side-view mirror, he can't see you. If that driver needs to change lanes for any reason, you could be in big trouble!

REAR NO-ZONES - Avoid Tailgating!

Unlike cares, trucks and buses have huge No-Zones directly behind them. Truck and bus drivers can't see your car back there, and you can't see what's going on ahead of you. If the truck or bus drivers brakes suddenly, you have no place to go.

FRONT NO-ZONES - Pass Safely!

Don't cut-in front too soon after passing. Truck and bus drivers need nearly twice the time and room to stop as cars. Look for the whole front of the truck in your rear-view mirror before pulling in front, and then don't slow down!

BACKING UP NO-ZONE - Pay Closer Attention!

Never cross behind a truck that is backing up! Hundreds of motorist and pedestrians are killed or injured, each year, by ignoring trucks backing up. Truck drivers do not have a rearview mirror and may not see you cutting in behind them.

WIDE RIGHT TURNS - Avoid the "Squeeze Play"!

Truck and bus drivers sometimes need to swing wide to the left in order to safely make a right turn. They can't see cars squeezing-in between them and the curb. Watch for their blinkers and give them room to turn. 

Do you avoid the No-Zones when driving?

The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16- to 19-year-olds than among any other age group. In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash


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