A commercial truck driver’s seat is eight feet off the ground. TSTC Professional Driving Academy student David Denham is shown here to demonstrate that distance. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Wayne Bradley, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) trainer for Texas State Technical College’s Professional Driving Academy at the Marshall campus, works hard to instill safe driving habits in his students.

“When they come to a CDL program, we’re taking an existing driver and we’re upgrading them to a professional driving operator so that they can operate a vehicle safely, and retraining them to help get rid of bad habits,” he said.

Bradley said noncommercial drivers should be careful about merging into the space between a semitruck and the vehicle ahead of it.

“Say the semitruck is 72 feet long. At 60 miles an hour, he has to leave six seconds or more between him and the driver ahead,” Bradley said. “If he hits the brakes, he’s lucky if he stops in a football field or two.”

Bradley Hayes, a TSTC program team lead, said noncommercial drivers should exercise caution when tempted to speed up and pass commercial vehicles that are changing lanes.

“They (commercial vehicles) need twice as much time and ability to change lanes,” he said. “If you’re that far behind that you’re not blocking them from moving over, slow down and give them room.”

Hayes said he was aware of many fatal accidents during his 25 years of working in diesel mechanics.

“Generally if someone tangles with a commercial vehicle, they’re going to lose, and often they lose everything,” Hayes said.

Hayes said diesel companies are incorporating more technology to increase safety with such features as dashcams and crash avoidance.

TSTC CDL student David Denham knows the importance of staying calm, cool and collected behind the wheel.

“If every truck in the United States shut down for one day, it would take three to five months to get everything going again,” he said.

The Professional Driving Academy is offered through TSTC’s Workforce Training and Continuing Education department at the Abilene, Brownwood, Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall and Sweetwater campuses. For more information and course requirements, visit tstc.edu/workforce/professional-driving-academy.

DCC72A00 CF4E 43EA A061 38B12B71A2A4 1 105 c - Vigilance is vital to road safety, TSTC CDL trainers say
Commercial vehicles, such as those shown here at TSTC’s CDL training area in Marshall, need to leave an average of six or more seconds of space between them and the vehicle in front of them when on the road. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)
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