Long-time truck drivers explain safety precautions behind the wheel
"My primary focus is being safe. That's gonna come first. Delivering the load comes second," said over-the-road truck driver Danny Smith.
Smith has rolled 3 million miles in his 36 years behind the wheel of a big rig.
Thanks to an impeccable safety record, he's also one of 19 members on America's Road Team. It's a group of the nation's safest truck drivers, according to American Trucking Associations.
Smith says that while principles of safe driving are simple, there are no shortcuts when it comes to truck safety, especially in construction zones.
"There's a lot of things going on in construction zones. Traffic being rerouted, construction people working there," he said.
Because speeds can quickly change in a work zone, Smith emphasizes keeping a safe distance behind other vehicles. It takes more time for a semi to slow down.
"A truck that is fully loaded at 55 miles per hour is going to take about 360 feet to stop. That's a football field plus both end zones," Smith explained.
Wyzeena Heeny has been a truck driver for 14 years.
"I always want to warn myself, first of all, to slow down," she said.
Heeny drives for Covenant Transport, based out of Chattanooga. While taking her own safety measures behind the wheel, she has a reminder for motorists driving around her.
"We have blind spots. On our left and right side, as well as in our back and our front," she explained.
Whether it's a job or not, Smith believes every driver shares the same goal.
"Just like everybody else, we want everybody to get home safe at the end of the night," he said.
According to Tennessee Highway Patrol, over 200,000 crashes involving trucks happen each year. Most of those crashes happen in daylight and under good weather conditions. In fatal car-truck wrecks, the drivers of passenger vehicles are killed 80 percent of the time.