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Firm uses truck to show blind spots

June 29, 1999

No Zone TrucksBy JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




Louis Dennis said he once saw a woman sit in the cab of a tractor-trailer and cry because she realized how lucky she was to be alive.

The woman had almost been driven off the road one day by a truck driver and didn't realize until she was sitting in a truck driver's seat that the driver couldn't have seen her.

That's why Hoffman Transport Inc. had its "No-Zone" tractor-trailer, which features a diagram showing the driver's blind spots, parked at Citicorp north of Hagerstown on Monday and Tuesday.

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Only a handful of employees braved the heat and humidity Tuesday to sit in the driver's seat of the 35,000-pound big rig and see for themselves what the driver cannot.

The firm posted posters throughout the building and distributed brochures to inform employees about the no zones in anticipation of heavy traffic for the July 4 holiday weekend and throughout the summer, said Tammy Kline, Citicorp spokeswoman.

"It makes them realize they're in jeopardy," said Dennis, 54, personnel manager for Hoffman on Mason Dixon Road.

Hoffman began displaying the No-Zone tractor-trailer in early June. The trailer will be at the Mason-Dixon Dragway on July 10 and at Mack Trucks Inc.'s Bulldog Roundup on Sept. 18, Dennis said.

By educating the public about the blind spots or "no-zones," company officials hope to save lives, Dennis said.

The firm, which had to have a satisfactory safety rating to be permitted to feature the huge decals on the trailer, paid almost $8,000 to have them affixed to the truck, Dennis said.

The trailer is one of about 200 nationwide wrapped in the decal, said Dave Longo, spokesman for the Federal Highway Administration program.

Almost 5,000 vehicles nationwide feature some kind of No-Zone decal, Longo said. The decal program started in September 1995, about a year after the No-Zone program began.

Bob Burnett, 51, of Hagerstown, described his view from behind the big rig's steering wheel as "really scary."

Burnett, Citicorp's security supervisor, said he couldn't see any of the vehicles that had been parked in the truck's No-Zones for the demonstration.

Many drivers don't realize tractor-trailers can't stop on a dime, Dennis said. It takes a car going 55 mph 25 yards to stop, but a tractor-trailer going the same speed needs 100 yards to come to a halt.

Truckers can take some extra precautions, such as adding expensive sonar equipment or extra mirrors, but they aren't required, Dennis said.

Company officials or groups who want to have the No-Zone tractor-trailer visit them can call Louis Dennis at 800-726-6111 or 717-597-7117.

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