Aggressive driving around 18-wheelers could mean ticket

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State officials are tightening the belts on drivers who aren’t careful enough around 18-wheelers.

Through a new program, the Florida Highway Patrol will be ticketing motorists who don’t drive safely around big rig trucks.

The program is called Ticketing Agressive Cars and Trucks, or TACT.

“We truly do need to have people understand how important it is to give truck drivers space, not only when they’re behind them, because they can’t see them, but also when they’re cutting in in front of them and when they’re actually slowing down and stopping abruptly,” said Lt. Col. Ernie Duarte of the highway patrol.

He said the TACT program is intended to reduce the number of crashes involving big rigs and passenger cars.

“Troopers will be on the lookout for agressive driving, such as following too closely, unsafe lane changes, and speeding violations committed by drivers of trucks and cars,” Duarte said.

James Gregg of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says Florida has reduced highway fatalities to below the national average and that the TACT program should reduce them even more.

“Fatal crashes in Florida are at the lowest level they’ve been in over 20 years,” he said.

Eighty-eight percent of the crashes between trucks and cars result from driver error, Duarte said. He said he thinks the highway patrol can reduce accidents by changing drivers’ attitudes.

The first of the TACT program’s five phases begins later this month in North Florida, from Pensacola to Ocala. In addition to targeted enforcement, the campaign will use billboard messaging to increase awareness about safe driving around 18-wheelers.

Katherine Hahn edited this story online.

About Forrest Smith

Forrest is a radio news manager for WUFT News. Reach him by emailing news@wuft.org or calling 352-392-6397.

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