Truck drivers weigh in on dangers of their job

(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Truck drivers are speaking out on the dangers of their job after our recent story on what Georgia is doing to keep you and them safe on the roads.

Distracted and aggressive drivers are the two biggest problems truck drivers say they see every day on the job. They said these drivers add stress to a job that is already very mentally taxing. Even more, those aggressive drivers add a level of danger to the roads that can be fatal.

"Our biggest fear is an accident. We get in our truck in the morning, and our number one job is to get home at night and to get home safely to our families. If we don't, then we have not done our job," said driver Andy Johnson.

Johnson is one of those truckers who spends his days and makes his money driving our interstates.

"Your cars and everything, they're distracted, they're playing on phones, texting, Facebook, what have you. They're constantly playing on phones. They cut you off. We can't stop on a dime," said Johnson.

He said those two problems are too common when he drives. In a time where law enforcers are ramping up their efforts to combat distracted drivers, Johnson said he too is forced to change the way he drives.

"Basically slow down, drive defensively. If I'm not safe, I don't get home to my family," said Johnson.

The state has safeguards in place with random stops and other patrols to make sure truckers are safe. They also have strict time guidelines for truckers.

They can work up to 14 hours a day. Eleven of those can be spent driving. In the first eight hours, drivers must stop for a 30-minute break. After 14 hours, they must take a 10-hour break.

"It's very tough. It's not physically demanding, but it's mentally demanding. The hours of service guidelines set forth by the government, they're there for a reason," said Johnson.

Another key for drivers in passenger cars: give room to these truckers. Officers said they notice cars driving way too close to trucks.

"When you're dealing with truck traffic, commercial traffic, you need a significant amount of room in order for the truck to operate where he doesn't have to slam on his brakes," said Officer Minis Hillis.

"If we can't stop, we take out cars. Just give us room, give us space," said Johnson.

It's a key that Johnson says could save your life and allow him to go home every night.

For drivers here, Johnson's message and the advice from law enforcement is even more important given the number of trucks on the roads. Savannah's port leads to a much higher number of 18-wheelers on the roads than other parts of the state.

Copyright 2016 WTOC. All rights reserved.