Tech researcher observes Walmart Truckers instruct James River students about driving with the Big Rigs
For the past three years Walmart has sent at least one trucker to James River High School for Driver’s Ed student education. This year a researcher from Virginia Tech, Stephanie Davis who is project manager in the Center for Truck and Bus Safety at Va Tech in the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute also attended. She came to observe what Wal Mart imparts to students.
She said, ” We are performing a driver education study to see how students are being taught about driving safely on the highway with tractor trailers.” She had found a BV article about JRHS and teacher Mike Goad’s Driver’s Ed course having Walmart truck drivers at the school for the past several years and contacted Goad.
Goad invited in two Walmart truckers, John Weatherholtz and Joe Bergen who drive the Northeast, Mid Atlantic and some into Ohio. Bergen has driven over 3.5 million miles and Weatherholtz over 1 million during 30 plus year careers. ” It would take the average person 127 years to drive a million miles,” said Bergen. He also said, “85% of accidents involving a tractor trailer are caused by a car.”
The blind spot in the tractor trailer’s surroundings is the number one contributor to collisions with automobiles.
Bergen handed out a card to the class that made four statements about the blind spots and car safety concerning a tractor trailer:
Briefly they are:
Side Blind Spot: Look for the trucker’s face in the mirror. If you can’t see him– he can’t see you. Lane changes in the blind spot by cars can cause accidents.
Rear Blind Spots: Don’t tailgate a big rig. It limits car visibility to the trucker and if the truck brakes suddenly, a car can go underneath.
Front Blind spots: When passing a truck, before pulling back in front, look in rear view mirror. If you can see the entire front of the truck it is safe to pull back in front of the truck.
Backing Blind Spot: Be on the look out for trucks in reverse. They can be 68 feet long and seeing with two mirrors does not cover the entire area behind the truck.
Other Advice: Wide Turns: Watch for turn signals. Sometimes a driver will have to swing to the left to make a turn.
Fully loaded a Walmart truck weighs 80,000 pounds or forty tons. It takes the length of a football field to stop a big rig suddenly that loaded. If trailer truck impacts a car from behind, it can send the car over a length of a football field and cause serious spinal and neck injuries to passengers and also death from impact alone.
Certainly with the amount of accidents on I-81 from the beginning of Botetourt at the Roanoke County line and the ending, at the Rockbridge County entry line, it should alert even seasoned drivers to be aware of blind spots on 18 wheelers.
“Walmart’s number one reason for trying to educate young drivers? No, it isn’t to ensure more customers,” said Bergen, “Walmart is committed to on the road safety.”