By Jena Williams

They are out there all right! In fact, a trooper might be sitting in the semi-truck in the lane next to you. One of the methods the Washington State Patrol’s (WSP) Commercial Vehicle Division uses to identify aggressive drivers is by riding-along with truck drivers. They also use unmarked vehicles and WSP aircraft. The program is called “Ticket Aggressive Cars & Trucks” or TACT and its goal is to reduce commercial motor vehicle (CMV) collisions.

Do you have a guess as to who is causing the collisions? For Washington, slightly more than half are caused by the CMV, but four-wheelers (we’ll refer to them as cars) are definitely causing their share as well.

In 2012, there were a total of 1,316 CMV involved collisions (682 caused by CMV, 634 caused by cars). I might be going out on a limb here, but I believe that if you pit an 18-wheeler against a 4-wheeler, the 18-wheeler wins. I know this is making light of a very serious situation, which is exactly why the WSP is stepping in between aggressive drivers and the rest of us.

According to their semi-annual report, the TACT program troopers responded to over 10,000 drivers in 2012 for breaking various laws or who needed help. They issued citations to 2,370 cars and 126 CMVs for Aggressive Driving, to 6,011 cars and 227 to CMVs for Speeding, and 1,288 cars and 48 CMVs were also cited for Following Too Closely.  Considering there are just eight troopers dedicated to the TACT program, it sounds to me like they are making good use of their time!

I for one am thankful for the WSP’s Commercial Vehicle Division’s ongoing effort to stop dangerous behavior and the drivers that put the rest of us at risk. And a special thanks goes out to the trucking companies that are hosting the troopers!

Here are a few things you should know when driving around semi-trucks and trailers.

1.       Don’t linger beside a truck. They generally cannot see you so either stay behind them or pass on the left. Check out the No-Zone depicted here: http://www.safeny.ny.gov/nozone.htm.

2.       Don’t jump in the space in front of a truck. You don’t know what they are hauling or how much room they need to stop. The driver of the big rig is leaving that space for a reason.

3.       Give them plenty of room to turn. Yeah, that may be your lane, but that doesn’t mean you can’t share it. Anyway, that driver is probably delivering the goods you either need now or have needed in the past. Remember: If you bought it, a truck brought it!

If you are a passenger and see unsafe or aggressive driving on Washington’s highways, you can report it by calling 911. Drivers, we’d prefer that you keep your hands on the wheel and attention on the road. We don’t want YOU to be another statistic.

What are your thoughts on the partnership between the WSP and Washington’s trucking companies? Share in the comments below.