Student Drivers Learn Why They Should Stay out of the 'No-Zone'

By Scanlan, Dan | The Florida Times Union, July 26, 2008 | Go to article overview

Student Drivers Learn Why They Should Stay out of the 'No-Zone'


Scanlan, Dan, The Florida Times Union


Byline: DAN SCANLAN

It looked like all the right ingredients for an accident: a UPS Freight truck with a pickup on its right, a car on its left and another behind it.

But this static gathering of usually moving metal at Mandarin High School's summer driver education course was set up to prevent accidents with trucks, not cause them.

As 30 students gathered in the steamy morning heat Monday, they learned the pickup and cars were in the truck's "no-zones" - big blind spots where another vehicle next to, behind or in front is invisible from the truck driver's view.

It all became visible when they got in a big rig to see what a trucker's mirrors show - and don't show.

"It's very hard to see what's behind and around you. It's a very large truck," said Mandarin High student Jon Scully, 15. "They can't see you. [I didn't realize that] as much as I did now being in the cab. ... I'll stay out of their way."

"I didn't realize they couldn't see that much, that the blind spot was as big as they said," added Bishop Kenny High School student Lauren Gerhardstein. "I'll be more careful and make sure they can see me."

Mandarin High offers driver's ed for its students at 2:30 p.m. weekdays during the school year. It also offered five courses this summer, open to area high school students age 15 or older for $135 each.

Normally, only the sedans used by instructors and teens occupy the driving range on Greenland Road. But Monday morning, a 60-foot-long, 10-wheel Volvo diesel truck covered in graphics depicting a truck's "no-zones" rolled in.

UPS driver Robert Foskey brings a rig to driver education programs at Mandarin High and other schools to give teens information on driving safely around them. The 20-year veteran trucker was joined by fellow UPS driver Roger Nicholson, AAA Cooper driver David Leach, Florida DOT Officer Becky Arsenault and Mandarin High driving instructor Katherine Masse.

Foskey kicked off the program in a classroom filled with posters reminding young drivers to "Move Over - It's the Law" and "Winners Don't Drink and Drive." But his own slogan was "Don't Hang Out in the No-Zone."

"It is the blind spots around the truck where you don't want to be caught," the Mandarin driver told them. "Have you ever been down the road passing a semi truck and its turn signal comes on? Shortly thereafter, he comes right over on you? …

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