CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The men and women who drive the biggest trucks on the road want your children to stay safe.
This week, truck drivers and trucking companies from across Virginia are meeting with new drivers at L.C. Bird and Thomas Dale high schools in Chesterfield to talk to them about safe driving around big trucks and rigs.
"There's gonna be a lot of truck traffic out there delivering our commodities to the stores for Christmas," Scott Tidwell with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, said. "So we could see an increase in crashes if everyone's not careful on the roadways."
These truck drivers can spend up to 11 hours a day, six to seven days a week on the roads, and it’s important for new drivers to understand these trucks have large blind spots that can extend for up to 200 feet where the driver cannot see behind them.
"We hope they leave with an understanding of how to stay out of these no-zones," Tidwell said. "Don't linger around these trucks, how they should properly pass these trucks, which is on the left side of the driver side, and don't linger next to them. You know, you don't want to cut trucks off, and we want to make sure they understand that because these 80,000-pound trucks cannot stop like their Driver's Ed car or their parent's car or SUV can."
Truck driver and owner of CB Wilson Transport, Durby Wilson says traffic and unsafe drivers are two of the biggest issues he faces.
"I just pray everyday that I don't get in an accident and keep everyone else around me safe," Wilson explained. "I’ve been a CDL holder for 12 years now, and have never had an accident. I’ve had some pretty close calls."
Recent statistics show there are around 127 crashes everyday between truckers and teen drivers.
The other issue Wilson and his fellow truckers are facing is a shortage of drivers. The American Trucking Associations noted the pandemic caused some drivers to leave the industry, and many drivers are of retiring age.
"We have a huge driver shortage, almost 80,000," Wilson noted. "Two years ago, it was at 60,000. Fatigue is another issue with commercial drivers on driving long hours and fighting traffic on a daily basis."
When you’re traveling this holiday season, Wilson asks that you slow down and be patient.
"Give yourselves plenty of time, and be patient," Wilson said. "That’s the biggest advice I can say is be patient."
Wilson says a few of the students he’s talked to today plan to get their CDL when they graduate, which he says is a good sign to see there are still some young people interested in joining the industry.
To those who are considering trucking, Wilson says the pay is great, and the hours have become more flexible.