• Carmen Marie Fabio

Blind spot safety campaign an eye-opener


PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

In a public sensitization operation held in DDO June 18, SAAQ Public Relations Officer Mario

Tremblay (far right) illustrates the significant areas in a large vehicle operator’s field of vision that becomes invisible while behind the wheel.

The reality of what heavy vehicle operators can actually see in the periphery from the driver’s seat of their vehicle was clearly illustrated June 18 in a joint sensitization operation by Pierrefonds’ Station 3 and Dollard des Ormeaux Station 4 officers, and representatives from the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), Société de transport de Montréal (STM), and Transport Québec.

“This is a campaign to educate people about the blind spots,” said SAAQ Public Relations Officer Mario Tremblay. “We’ve been working for over 25 years with heavy vehicle drivers and their responsibilities. But this campaign is to educate other road users. They don’t know the truck drivers’ limitations and this is why we’ve installed a red carpet to represent the driver’s blind spots.”

Held in a parking lot at Galeries des Sources in Dollard-des-Ormeaux on Brunswick Boulevard, the operation, staged annually in various locations, included both a dump truck and STM passenger bus, allowing participants to sit in the driver’s seat to appreciate the constraints on what is, and isn’t, visible from the driver’s vantage point. And the firsthand experience in knowing what a driver is capable of seeing is an invaluable tool in educating all road users, particularly pedestrians and cyclists.

“Fifty-five percent of the accidents involving people on bicycles happen at intersections,” said Tremblay, highlighting the fact that many accidents between heavy vehicles and pedestrian/ bicycle traffic occurs due to their close proximity at road junctures. The deaths of two Montreal women in April 2014 – a pedestrian crossing at Mackay and Ste. Catherine and a cyclist on St. Denis Street – occurred while they were in the drivers’ blind spots. Using bright red tarpaulins laid out around the truck’s perimeter to pinpoint the specific areas that the driver can’t see is what organizers want to illustrate to all road users.

While flat-nosed vehicles, including some less powerful transport trucks and city buses, have a better visual field, all are subject to limitations that pedestrians should be aware of while negotiating and sharing the roadways.

“Cyclists and pedestrians have the right-of-way,” said Tremblay. “But if the driver is not able to see them, he’s not able to give priority. People need to make sure they’re able to see the driver’s face.” Tremblay recommends raising one hand in the air, giving a wave to get the truck driver’s attention before crossing the road and said many people pushing strollers or confined to wheelchairs affix a bright orange flag on an extended telescopic attachment to their respective pedestrian vehicles.

“We want people to realize the importance of the issue when they’re around a heavy vehicle.” Tremblay said Transports Québec conducts similar sensitization campaigns with heavy vehicle drivers and the exercise is generally well-received. “They realize their job will be easier when road users understand the drivers’ visual limitations.”

For more information consult http://www.spvm.qc.ca/en/Fiches/ Details/Trucking-and-Heavy-Vehicles. For more photos, see our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.805323679562928.1073742009.450636595031640&type=3

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