The AAA study analyzed nearly 46,000 fatal crashes in the U.S. between 1995 and 1998.
It found that 80-percent of car drivers in those accidents, not the truck drivers, made at least one error.
One driver we observed is doing it right. He's changing lanes at a safe distance and using his signal. Doug Houff's been driving big rigs for 35 years. e says there's one major error most drivers make.
People don't realize that you just can't zig in and out in front of these trucks and expect them to act like a car would react,” says Houff.
“A loaded tractor trailer takes a lot more stopping distance than an automobile and motorists need to be aware of that,” says Sgt. Frank Pyanoe of the Virginia State Police
In fact this truck we're in, with its cargo, is about 78,000 pounds. That's the weight of 15 to 20 cars.
“Most cars just do not know what it takes to stop a truck,” says Houff.
That's why following too closely is a big no-no. Also, never drive alongside a truck or directly behind it. The truck driver can't see you. And when you pass a truck don't cut back over too closely. And make sure you use your signal.
Houff says we shouldn't put cars in one category and trucks in another.
“We have to do it together. if we don't do it together in this driving business, then it's not worth it for any of us,” says Houff.
AAA Officials say motorist just need to remember that it takes a truck a lot longer pick up speed and a lot longer to stop.
There was some good news found in the study. It showed that drivers who understand the way big trucks move drive more safely around them.