By Jacob Levin
Research shows that car, pickup truck, and SUV drivers, including teens, initiate more than 75 percent of incidents involving heavy trucks. “Good Morning America” visited the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) to provide its viewers with a first-person perspective of what it is like to drive a truck on the road and tips on how to safely drive around them during the busy holiday travel season. The segment aired on Dec. 23.
The segment featured the Sharing the Road with Trucks program — which has reached more than 15,000 students since its inception in 2018. During the filmed segment, reporter Stephanie Ramos climbed into the driver’s seat to report on what she could and couldn’t see from the perspective of a truck driver. She could not see multiple cars surrounding the truck because of its large blind spots.
Matt Camden, Mark Golusky, and Scott Tidwell lead the VTTI Sharing the Road team that travels to high schools across the mid-Atlantic to provide engaging learning opportunities for new teen drivers. During the demonstration, teen participants have the opportunity to see a truck up close and experience the large blind spots from a driver’s perspective behind the steering wheel to reinforce how difficult it is to see surrounding objects. This teaches teens how to pass these trucks safely and efficiently.
Currently, the program operates in five states — Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland — with hopes of expanding nationwide.
When the Sharing the Road truck can’t be brought to a school demonstration, members of the team will partner with a local trucking organization to bring in a driver and truck from that area to the school, enabling the program to reach students across the country. The program has been extended for an additional three years with a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s High Priority Grant program.