There are two sides to every story (at the very least), even when both sides are working towards the same goal. In the battle between the commercial shipping industry and the safety organizations that aim to lower trucking accident statistics, the “us against them” mentality has grown heated. For ultimate safety though, all drivers must find some middle ground.
On our highways, some passenger vehicle drivers may feel like victims who are standing in the way of progress. Business and commerce certainly are a big part of the American economy, and the trucking industry makes a great deal of that possible. But some trucking companies project an attitude that says, “respect our right-of-way and get out of our way!” At the same time, though, truckers and shipping companies are beaten up by trucking accident victims and their injury lawyers. It’s the same story nationwide, even here in Tennessee where a number of busy shipping routes converge.
Not surprisingly, Nashville and Memphis (Davidson County and Shelby County), have the highest counts of trucking accident fatalities in the State of Tennessee. Take a look at this National Highway Traffic Safety Administration link to fatal trucking accidents here in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The location of each fatal truck crash is marked on the interactive Google Earth map and you’ll notice that most accidents occur where multiple interstates come together. These transportation “crossroads” are an important part of the battle for truck safety for that very reason.
Tennessee has been doing a notable job at lowering the number of trucking accidents and, therefore, the number of fatalities that occur inside our state. There were 94 truck crash fatalities in 2009, down from 149 in 2007. But our accident fatality rate is still significantly higher than it could be. In 2009, we counted 15.71 fatalities per 100,000 people while the state with the lowest statistic counted only 4.84 per 100,000.
In 2004, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched a safety program that Tennessee should consider using. The TACT (Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks) Program was created to assist states in safety education aimed at the drivers of cars around trucks, trucks around trucks and trucks around all other kinds of vehicles. Rather than picking on one side or the other for bad habits, TACT takes on everyone at once and offers up safety instructions from which we all can benefit.
TACT provides safety tips to help bus and truck drivers maneuver more safely around passenger vehicles and reminds car drivers to practice good safety habits around trucks and other large vehicles. Through road signs, advertisements, program planning assistance, partner campaigns, access to statistics and the sharing of successful safety efforts among the states, TACT is successfully building a bridge between truckers and drivers like us. (Well, like you and trucking accident lawyers.) So far, TACT programs are active in only 12 states. You can help Tennessee get on board with the TACT plan by contacting the head of the Tennessee Highway Patrol Tracy Trott.