GREAT FALLS — In an effort to increase awareness while hitting Montana's roads, driver's ed students in Great Falls got the chance to go behind the wheel of a semi-truck to gain a deeper understanding of safety while driving.
Referred to as "Share the Road," the Montana Trucking Association hosted the demonstration at CMR High School with the goal of giving the students a unique, hands-on experience before they get their driver's license.
This is the first time the program was hosted before the Covid pandemic. The program is hosted in various cities across Montana.
"Our main focus of this program is to make sure that the kids are trained on sharing the road with trucks," said Will Cole, who serves as the Safety Coordinator for the Montana Trucking Association. "It's one of those things where once kids are trained on what the hazards are of a truck, we're just going to make Montana a safer place to operate."
During the demonstration, students got to learn more about blind spots, control panels, seating adjustment, and more.
The purpose of the program is to give them a different perspective when behind the wheel of a vehicle much larger.
Student Myli Adams stated, "it definitely gives a different perspective, just sitting in the passenger seat of a car and passing the semi, then actually being in the big truck. It gives you a way different perspective."
Another student noted the biggest difference that stood out to him.
"You can't see the blind spots. I didn't even know there was a black truck (in the blind spot) when I looked at the mirror. It was crazy," he said.
"Share the Road" is a simple, but important concept.
According to the Montana Department of Transportation there were 207 crash-related fatalities in 2022. So far in 20223, there have been 100 fatalities, compared to 98 fatalities for this same time in 2022 (source).
Cole noted the idea of a program such as this, is not only teaching the importance of safety itself, but also through the lens of over drivers.
Cole said, "they can see exactly what the driver is looking at. When that comes to realization, those mirrors are not very big, and with the kids and students being able to see this, it's really bringing awareness to the whole state."
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