The coming Labor Day weekend confronts Utah motorists with one of the most deadly travel periods.
That's why the State Department of Transportation picked this week to alert the motoring public to a little-known hazard that's particularly prevalent along the Wasatch Front.We're referring to what traffic experts call no-zones, those blind spots on the side, front and rear of large trucks where passenger vehicles disappear from view and crashes are most likely to occur.
Last year in Utah, 23 people died in car-truck crashes, up 35 percent from 1993. In fatal crashes between cars and trucks, it is the driver of the car who dies eight times out of 10. Most of these crashes occurred in the no-zone.
Here's how such accidents can be prevented:
- Avoid tailgating. When you follow a large truck too closely, you're driving in the no-zone and the truck driver can't see you. Be sure to stay several car lengths behind and look for the truck's side-view mirrors to avoid the rear no-zone.
- Avoid side blind spots. When you can't see the truck driver's face in his side mirrors, you're driving in the no-zone. Maintain a consistent speed and safely move past the truck.
- Pass cautiously. Avoid cutting in too close after passing large trucks. Trucks take twice as long as cars to stop. The rule of thumb is that if you can't see the whole cab in your rearview mirror you are in the no-zone and should not cut in front of the truck.
A final suggestion: Cut out this editorial and paste it to the dashboard of your car for future reference, particularly during this coming weekend when Utah highways will be more crowded than usual. The most enjoyable holidays, after all, are the ones with the fewest deaths and injuries.