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Roadway Safety

In 2010, almost 33,000 Americans died in over 5.4 million police-reported motor vehicle crashes, according to NHTSA. That averages out to crashes causing the deaths of 90 people each day, one every 16 minutes.

For more than a century, AAA has been working to improve roadway safety through providing educational materials and programs to members and the public, as well as by working with local, state and federal government officials and agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding safety rules and guidelines.

Each year, thousands die in accidents involving large trucks, buses and emergency vehicles. It is important for everyone to understand laws and safety issues related to large vehicles, how these drivers see road conditions and how they maneuver. To help all drivers share the road safely, AAA has created a national safety campaign, Share with Care. In addition to raising awareness and providing education, AAA is also working to ensure federal guidelines for the trucking industry protect all motorists. Learn more about truck safety by reviewing these AAA materials:
  • Share with Care
  • Truck Sizes & Weights
  • Hours of Service
  •  North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA) mandates
  • Causes of Crashes
  • Safety Tips
  • Distracted Driving
Federal law restricts the length and weight of tractor-semitrailers on the road under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). However, 21 states allow exemptions that put bigger, heavier trucks on the roads AAA opposes these exemptions as well as any efforts to allow larger heavier trucks on the road for three reasons:
  • Safety
  • Impact on the infrastructure
  • Overwhelming concerns of AAA members.
AAA has a number of safety publications.  These tips are from Share with Care: Sharing the Road Safely, which is available from your local AAA office.


  • Trucks create wind gusts. Keep both hands on the wheel when you pass a truck or when a truck passes you.
  • Leave plenty of room between you and a truck when stopping on a hill. Trucks may roll back as the driver takes his or her foot off the brake.
  • Don’t speed up when a truck is passing you. Instead, stay to the right and slow down slightly. Let the truck pass you. This will give the truck driver room to pass safely and get you out of the truck’s blind spot faster.
  • If a truck driver is signaling to change lanes, give the driver space. An average truck changing lanes at highway speeds needs an eight-second gap or 700 feet – the length of 2 1/2 football fields.

Truck Drivers:

  • Double-check your mirrors before turning right. Motorists may not know that you need to swing wide to the left to make a right turn and they may not realize that you are turning.
  • Signal early and often when maneuvering through and around intersections. In heavy traffic, motorists who drive alongside the truck may not see your turn signal. Signaling early gives motorists the information they need to decide whether or not to pull alongside you.
  • Don’t tailgate. It makes motorists uneasy to have 80,000 pounds of truck on their rear bumper.
  • Leave extra space between your truck and cars around you whenever possible. Many motorists don’t know how long it takes a truck to stop or how much room you need to pass safely.
  • Use proper parking areas when pulling off the road. Trucks are four times more likely to be rear-ended than cars. It is especially important to use designated parking areas. If you can’t do this, pull completely off the road and set out flares, safety triangles or other devices to alert drivers.

In 2013, more than 4,600 motorcycle fatalities were reported.

Motorcycle fatalities have dropped the past few years according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Unfortunately, so has the reported use of helmets, so many motorcycle accidents cause serious head injuries.

States across the U.S. are hoping to decrease the number of motorcycle-related injuries and deaths by:

  • Encouraging helmet use. Wearing a helmet is required in more than 20 states
  • Training police to identify drunken motorcyclists and increasing high-visibility drunk driving enforcement
  • Enforcing speed limits. More than 35% of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes were speeding.
  • Making rider training more accessible, with more courses at convenient times.
  • Educating motorists about sharing the road with motorcycles.

Staying Safer on Your Motorcycle

One of the most common reasons drivers give for cutting off or pulling out in front of a motorcycle is that they “didn’t see it.”

Bikers can prevent crashes and injuries by:

  • Keeping headlights and marker and taillights on at dusk and in dark or rainy weather
  • Staying three to four seconds behind a vehicle they intend to pass, checking oncoming traffic from the left side of the lane, signaling the intention to turn, and then checking for oncoming traffic before passing.
  • Checking their rearview mirror and quickly turn their head to ensure the vehicle is a safe distance behind them when completing a pass.
  • Wearing helmets that meet a high protection standard.
  • Wearing proper clothing, eyewear and sturdy, closed-toe footwear.

Sharing the Road with Bikers

Motorists can help to make the roads safer for motorcyclists by taking some simple precautions:

  • Be extra cautious on weekends, when more motorcyclists take to the road.
  • Provide motorcyclists adequate room to maneuver. Follow at least three to four seconds behind them.
  • Allow extra maneuvering room in areas with potholes, pavement transitions and railroad crossings. Motorcyclists may need to slow down, stop or adjust their lane position.
  • Never try to share a lane with a motorcycle. Motorcycles have the same right to lanes as any other vehicle.
  • If a motorcycle is nearby, check your mirrors carefully before changing lanes. Motorcycles may be in your blind spots or difficult to see because of their smaller size.

15-Passenger Vans

The vehicle design of 15 passenger vans requires drivers and passengers to be aware of some unique limitations and techniques regarding the operation, handling and packing that will help ensure a safe trip.

AAA recommends the following driver safety tips:

Pre-Driving Preparation

  • First and foremost, make sure all passengers are using seat belts.  Carry no more passengers than available seatbelts.
  • Secure all cargo carefully, and avoid using the rear-most storage area.
  • Be aware of any blind spots in the front and sides of the vehicle.
  • Check with your state’s Department of Vehicle services for special any special licensing and training requirements.  Some states require a commercial driver’s license.

Driving, Operation & Handling

  • Recognize that these vehicles are not automobiles.  The design features of these vehicles –longer length, additional weight, especially when fully loaded, and higher center of gravity – make them more difficult to drive and control in emergency situations , and under certain weather conditions, such as high winds.
  • 15 passenger vans require more time (distance) to accelerate, turn and stop.   Steering and braking maneuvers at highway speeds must be performed gradually and smoothly to minimize large weight shifts that can lead to loss of control.
  • Understand that the vehicle weighs more than other passenger vehicles and braking distance is greater.
  • When entering a highway, allow more room to merge into traffic because of the size of the vehicle and its diminished acceleration capability.