Crash fatalities involving trucks up in 2022, officials say drivers need to learn to share the roads
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Following a shocking increase in traffic deaths in the Staunton area, officials say car drivers need to learn how to share the road with big trucks.
"Our hardworking men and women, they're just trying to do their jobs," said Dale Bennett, the president and CEO of the Virginia Trucking Association.
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles reported 33 deaths from car crashes involving a commercial vehicle in the Staunton area in 2022. In 2021, there were only 11.
"That's a 200 percent increase in commercial crashes, so we're very concerned about that,” said John Saunders, the director of highway safety for the Virginia DMV.
Of the 33 deaths, only five were truck drivers, so in most cases, the fault was assigned to the car driver.
"We've seen an increase in speed, an increase in riskier driving, and an increase in distracted driving. All a recipe that will lead to tragic consequences," said Bennett.
Investigating officers found that the cars that were involved didn't have the right of way, drove on the wrong side of the road, or attempted an unsafe lane change.
"The numbers of people who leave home each morning and don't understand they may not come home that evening," Saunders said.
Bennett said truck drivers go through extensive training, but there's not much they can do when a car gets in their way.
"You have blind spots that you have to be aware of, to stay out of those areas because for the truck driver to see those vehicles. Trucks cannot stop on a dime like small cars, so don’t cut them off. Don’t follow too close,” Bennett said.
Both men added that drivers need to learn how to share the road.
"Put the cell phone down, wear your seat belt, obey the speed limit. Be patient, give them a little room, and let them do their job," Bennett said.