BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Thousands of big rigs travel Maryland roads every day.

As Gigi Barnett reports–state troopers say the drivers of those trucks are constantly in danger because of other reckless drivers.

Take a big rig going about 35 miles an hour. How far does it travel after hitting the brakes to avoid another car?

The answer: About the length of a football field.

It’s a powerful demonstration put on by state troopers to warn drivers of the coming crackdown on reckless and aggressive driving around 18-wheelers.

It’s called Smooth Operators 2013.

“When the driver doesn’t pay attention, gets stuck behind one, they get upset. Or when they go driving by a vehicle–a large truck–they’re not thinking about, ‘Can a truck see me?,'” said Capt. Norman Dofflemyer, Maryland State Trooper.

In the last five years,nearly 300 people lost their lives in accidents involving big rigs on Maryland roads.

Truck drivers say the sides of their vehicles are rife with blind spots. And there’s poor visibility in the back, too.

“So that car back there that’s sitting behind us, I can’t see it in the mirror,” a truck driver said.

Truck drivers say their one request of other drivers is to not tailgate. But over the years, they’ve seen an alarming trend on the road, and that is distracted drivers.

“Distracted driving is, right now, probably the biggest cause of all my close calls,” said Chris Dean, UPS truck driver.

Chris Dean has worked behind the wheel of a UPS truck for 30 years. He says with more GPS and smart phones on the road, a crackdown is overdue.

“Everybody’s got their smartphones balanced on their steering wheel and just texting away,” he said.

Nearly 60 police departments around the state are part of the Smooth Operator program.

In the last five years, nearly 13,000 people have been injured in accidents with big rigs on Maryland roadways.


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