The return of summer is almost here in Idaho — an event that in 2021 is especially welcome as our state, and our great nation, are finally emerging from the COVID-induced hibernation. Accordingly, Idaho citizens can expect to see a significant uptick in automobiles on our roadways.
But return of summer also marks the return of peak construction season followed by the late-summer harvest season. This translates to a greater number of commercial motor vehicles on our roads as well. The Idaho Trucking Association and the Associated Logging Contractors of Idaho want to take this moment to remind all Idaho motorists, commercial and automobile, that as the weather warms, please remember that on our roadways, nothing is more paramount than adherence to state traffic and safety regulations.
America’s trucking industry invests over $9 billion annually in the latest and greatest truck safety technologies but ultimately, commercial drivers are the key to safety. Drivers are reminded to conduct a pre-trip and post-trip safety inspection, so they are safe when traveling down the road. Drivers must be sure to comply with hours-of-service regulations, follow load securement and freight coverage requirements as well as axle-weight restrictions to ensure preservation of our infrastructure.
With the increase of construction vehicles on our roadways in summer, these trucks, by law, must include six inches of free board for those hauling materials like gravel. This prevents products spilling from the inside of the box onto the outside of the truck. Meanwhile, shippers and carriers must work together to prevent commercial vehicles from being overloaded and violating the state’s per-axle weight allowances. Failure to do so puts unnecessary stress on our valuable infrastructure while also distorting the competitive marketplace.
For those operating automobiles this summer, be mindful of safely sharing the road with commercial trucks. These simple suggestions should be followed:
- Buckle up. While a seat belt cannot prevent a collision, it can save a life.
- Slow down. The likelihood of a crash nearly triples when a vehicle is driving faster than surrounding traffic.
- Do not drive impaired or distracted. Driving is a privilege, not a right. Safe roadways require attentive and sober drivers so stay away from alcohol and put down your phones when behind the wheel.
- Be aware of truck blind spots. In good times and bad, trucks keep on delivering. Automobile drivers can help make trips easier by avoiding a truck’s blind spots. If you do need to pass a truck, do so on the left side where the blind spots are smaller.
- Do not cut in front of large trucks. Remember trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop. A fully loaded tractor-trailer can take the length of a football field plus both end zones to make a complete stop.
- Do not tailgate. Be aware of the vehicle in front of you and leave extra room between you and said vehicle.
The Idaho trucking industry interacts with every person who lives in Idaho. More than 70% of goods that we consume are hauled by a truck; the remaining goods are shipped by air, ship and train. The saying “Without trucks, America stops” is true and the COVID-19 pandemic proved that yet again. The drivers and companies answered the call and did not shut down over the fears of the virus. The drivers hauled timber for building materials, kept our grocery store shelves stocked, supplied our hospitals and now the industry is transporting the vaccines to every corner of the country so we can continue our return to some semblance of normalcy.
Another example the impact of trucking has in Idaho is that in 2019 the trucking industry paid $270 million in roadway taxes. In Idaho, 1 in 16 people are employed in trucking, which amounted to $1.9 billion in wages.
In closing, if all motorists follow the rules of the road that exist including giving trucks their space on the road, we are much safer in our travels and all of us get home to our families at the end of the day. Everyone appreciates the desire to get out and see the sights in our most scenic of states or make their commercial deliveries on time but above all, we want to be sure everyone reaches their destinations safe and sound.
Allen Hodges is president and CEO of the Idaho Trucking Association. Shawn Keough is executive director of the Associated Logging Contractors of Idaho.