Campaign reminds drivers about big trucks' blind spots

April 22, 1994|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Sun Staff Writer

Maryland launched a nationwide advertising campaign yesterday aimed at educating motorists on how to drive safely around trucks.

Getting car drivers to recognize the limitations of big rigs and buses is at the heart of the "Sharing the Road" campaign, which was unveiled at a news conference by the state transportation officials who created it.

The catch-line, "Don't Hang Out in the No-Zone," warns drivers not to linger in a trucker's blind spots along the side and rear.

The campaign's centerpiece is a computer-generated public service ad for television. In the 30-second spot, the center of a highway metamorphoses into a jet-powered sled and helmeted rider, who pulls alongside a sedan and then warns the driver about the blind spots around the truck he's passing.

Future ads will focus on the dangers of following trucks too closely, unsafe passing and the wide turns that trucks make, officials said.

Developed by the State Highway Administration under a $700,000 Federal Highway Administration grant, the first "No-Zone" commercial has been distributed to hundreds of stations across the country for broadcast beginning this week.

"Look at accidents involving trucks, and more often than not the fault is not with the truck driver," said Hal Kassoff, SHA administrator. "There is truly an awareness problem."

In 1992, there were more than 200,000 crashes involving cars and trucks nationwide and more than half of the fatal crashes were caused by the automobile driver. Most crashes occur in normal weather, during daylight, on straight, dry pavement, according to FHWA statistics. Alcohol is usually not a factor.

There were 1,520 accidents involving trucks that resulted in injury in Maryland in 1992. One-third of them occurred in Baltimore and Baltimore County.

Representatives of Maryland truckers and the American Automobile Association praised the campaign.

"Our survival depends on the successful co-existence of commercial and private vehicles," said Rita Bontz, president of the Maryland Independent Truckers and Drivers Association.

"Big trucks are going to be there," said Garvin Kissinger, spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "Our members use the highways, too. We need to learn to share them."

The campaign also includes radio and print advertisements.

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