Semi-truck drivers say other drivers need to pay attention

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Truck drivers say one of the biggest problems they see on the roads, drivers not paying attention.

The number of deaths from semi-truck involved crashes in the Show-Me state is on the rise.

But, Missouri Highway Patrol data shows most of the time, it's the surrounding cars that cause the wreck, not the truck.

Semi-truck drivers said they see people texting and driving. They said when drivers don't use their turn signals, drive too fast or too slow, don't yield at highway on ramps, or stay in the left lane...those can all create a dangerous situation on the road.

The drivers said they can only do so much.

"I just try to back off, cars have a bad tendency, especially on the two lane to pass you and then slow down, I don't know what the reason is other than they don't like to be behind a truck, but it just puts you in danger, then I have to back off and worry about rear ending them, it's just another thing boiling down to they don't pay attention," said Ben Tate, a truck driver.

"Their attention to road isn't what it should be," said Randy Watson, a truck driver.

"Be careful out there, we're trying to watch for ya," said Roger Bennett, a truck driver.

"Give us plenty of room and don't be tailgating," said Watson.

"At 65 miles an hour it takes three football fields to stop this truck, I got 18 brakes, but that don't mean I can stop 18 times as fast, so when you're swinging around, and whipping in front of me, I can't guarantee ya I can get it shut down, we'll try, but that's all we can do," said Bennett.

"People seem to think it's a game around a truck, cut them off, and not pay attention," said Tate.

'Missouri Highway Patrol Trooper Clark Parrott said between 2010 and 2011, the number of fatalities in tractor-trailer wrecks went from 105 to 120.

Parrott said so far, in 2012, fatal wrecks are up 22 percent. Of those, he said two-thirds were not wearing a seatbelt.

But, he said, overall, the number of wrecks, injury and non-injury wrecks, are down.

Parrott said when you're driving near a semi-truck, if you can't see the mirrors, the driver can't see you. He said it's important to give them enough room, especially on windy days when the truck could blow over, or move into another lane because of the wind.

Parrott said the two biggest contributors to crashes are: people driving too fast, and improper lane use, meaning someone might veer out of the lane, and overcorrect.

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