KHP Program Targets Careless & Distracted Drivers Near Semis

By: Cayle Thompson Email
By: Cayle Thompson Email

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Kansas drivers will want to check their speed, their distance, and make sure they signal when approaching or passing a semi-truck.

Kansas Highway Patrol troopers are three weeks into a seven week traffic safety initiative targeting distracted or careless drivers around large trucks.

The program is called Trucks On Patrol For Safety - or T.O.P.S. In the first two weeks, troopers wrote more than 150 tickets, and gave more than 1,000 verbal warnings.

"These trucks will get up to 60 or 70 feet long, and they can't just swap lanes like a car can," said KHP Capt. Dan Meyer. "It can take them the length of a football field to stop."

Statistics for 2008 - the most recent full year of data available from the KHP - shows semis were involved in 5.6% of all Kansas crashes. However, those crashes accounted for nearly 15% of all highway deaths.

In most crashes, Meyers said the driver of a smaller vehicle was at fault.

As part of the T.O.P.S. program, troopers ride with truckers across the state. When they spot a careless driver, they radio another trooper following nearby, who then makes the stop.

Several tickets have also been written to other semi-drivers who were spotted driving dangerously.

"The public needs to pay attention," Meyer said. "They never know which truck we're going to be in."

Officials say following a few simple steps can not only keep you from getting a ticket, but also save your life:

* Stay out of trucks' blind spots. If you can't see the driver's mirrors, s/he can't see you.

* Never follow too closely. Give at least one car length for every 10 mph of speed.

* Use extra caution when passing. Don't pull back into the truck's lane until you can see the truck's headlights in your rear-view mirror.

* Always use your turn signal when changing lanes.

* Always use seat-belts and proper child safety restraints.

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