NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — The North Dakota Department of Transportation through Vision Zero is partnering with The North Dakota Motor Carriers Association to recognize the importance of truck drivers during Truck Driver Appreciation Week from Sept. 11-17.

According to a news release, nearly every aspect of daily life is made possible because a truck driver delivered the resources people need, so truck drivers and motorists must work together to make sure everyone gets home safely.

Motorists can take certain steps to do their part when driving near or around a semi-truck or other large vehicles.

“Truck drivers are a large and crucial part of our highway system, so it’s important to always remain alert when driving around them. Drivers should maintain a safe distance from semis and large trucks. Following too closely puts you at greater risk of being involved in a crash by sudden stops. Sharing the road is another way to take personal responsibility when driving,” explained NDDOT Highway Safety Division Director Karin Mongeon.

“Our association is committed to highway and driver safety. We provide educational programs and are constantly promoting safety and security on North Dakota roads to our members. Trucking is such an essential service that impacts nearly every part of the economy so keeping our roads safe is a vital part of what we do,” said NDMCA President Eric Grove.

Motorists can follow these additional tips to share the road with semi-trucks and other large vehicles:

  • Drive defensively: Pay attention to vehicle locations, traffic flow, vehicle signals, and weather so you can anticipate problems and have plenty of time to react
  • Avoid blind spots: Large vehicles have extensive blind spots on both sides; if you can’t see the driver’s face in their side-view mirror, they can’t see you
  • Pass safely, or not at all: Semi-truck and other large vehicles need twice the time and space to stop as smaller passenger vehicles; when changing lanes in front of large vehicles, allow one vehicle length for every 10 mph you’re traveling (70 mph = seven car lengths)
  • Pay close attention: never cross behind a truck that’s backing up; truck drivers don’t have a rearview mirror and therefore may not see you behind them
  • Avoid the “squeeze play”: Truck and bus drivers sometimes need to swing wide to the left to safely make a right turn; they can’t see vehicles squeezing in between them and the curb, watch for their turn signals and give them room to turn

In North Dakota in 2022, 22.7% of fatal crashes have involved a Commercial Motor Vehicle compared to 9.5% at this time in 2021 and 11.1% in 2020, making this collaborative effort crucial to help meet the state’s goal of zero motor vehicle fatalities and serious injuries on North Dakota roads.

Learn more about traffic safety initiatives at the Vision Zero website or join the conversation on the Vision Zero ND Facebook or Twitter page.