D. O. "Spike" Helmick is the retired Commisioner of the California Highway Patrol

Spike Helmick, Retired CHP Commissioner

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Driver education has changed since we were children. Many public schools no longer offer driver education or driver training.

CHP says yes to "No Zone”

Deft magicians have made objects as large as buildings disappear. Truck drivers also can achieve this effect with cars when motorists follow a big rig too closely.

There are blind spots and if you’re in one, truckers can’t see you. Statistics tell the sad tale: Nearly 70 percent of all fatal crashes involving a motorist and a commercial truck are the fault of the car driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

To decrease these alarming statistics, the California Highway Patrol, the California Trucking Association and the broader trucking industry have joined the Federal Highway Administration in promoting the “No Zone” program. The thrust of the campaign is to teach the motoring public how to safely share the roadways with trucks by learning about the big rigs’ sight, speed and brake response limitations.

In the driver’s seat of a truck cab, certain areas along both sides and the rear of the rig become blind spots, said Lt. Doug Unlike of the CHP’s Commercial Vehicle Section. What’s more, a loaded 18 wheeler traveling at 55 mph needs at least 325 feet, a little longer than a football field, to stop safely.

“When people change lanes in front of a truck, they need to remember it reduces the (truck’s) stopping distance,” Unlike cautioned.

Unlike called the “No Zone” program a good educational awareness tool.

The CHP has been working jointly with the trucking industry and the FHWA to promote the “No Zone” campaign at rest stops, air shows, fairs and schools where event-goers can climb into a truck cab to see what it’s like behind the wheel of a big rig. From that vantage point they see how surrounding vehicles can “disappear” into blind spots.

“People always get out and say they had no idea what it was like,” said Ted Dunn, director of risk management for Pro Pacific Transport.

Dunn said the “No Zone” is the first program designed to help the trucking industry “cure some of our problems. With 25,000 registered motor carriers in the state, we do not want to become involved in crashes with cars. We do want to get involved with the public in educating them about trucks.”

Mike Gouweloos, state program specialist with FHWA’s Office of Motor Carriers, said: “The bottom line here is that it doesn’t matter whose fault caused the accident when an 80,000-pound big rig mixes it up with a 3,000-pound car.

“It doesn’t take much to figure out who will take the biggest hit,” Gouweloos added. “Just a few simple safe driving practices can make all the difference.”

To learn more about the “No Zone,” check out the Federal Highway Administration’s web site: www.nozone.org.

Law Enforcement Sites

The Official CHP WebSite

The CHP 11-99 Foundation was created to provide benefits to California Highway Patrol employees and their families

The California Association of Highway Patrolmen (CAHP) is a labor association whose primary purpose is to work for the benefit of all California Highway Patrol officers.

Other Sites

Mothers Against Drunk Driving