* Murlin Heights Elementary students get safety lesson from rig's
It's fair to say Brandon Tyzzer was a young man caught up in
the glory of being seated high up in the cab of the 75 foot long,
1951 Kenworth semitractor-trailer known as `Ol' Blue'; which had
taken over a sizeable chunk of the school parking lot.
Especially after the truck's owner, RJ Taylor, armed the Murlin
Heights Elementary School first-grader with a microphone.
`Hello,' Brandon's amplified, 7-year-old voice rather tentatively
rang across the school yard when he was first asked to give the
mike a try.
But then encouraged by the laughter of roughly 140 classmates
and kindergarten underclassmen it became a bold, `Hello, again!'
And (after more laughter): `You know, I'm glad to be in this
big Ol' Blue!'
Which, of course, elicited still more laughing.
With their attention engaged through having a little fun, the
Vandalia-Butler students were ready for their lessons in large
Seated way up there, pretending he was driving that big truck,
could Brandon see Taylor walking directly in front of it? No,
came the answer.
Could Brandon see classmate Christina Pentaudi when she was 10
feet from the front of the truck? No.
15 feet? No.
20 feet? No.
25 feet? Yes.
And a lesson learned was truck drivers need that much distance
in front before they can see a child or adult who decides to risk
dashing in front of a truck stopped at a changing traffic light.
There were many other object lessons as well, including:
* First-graders weigh about 40 pounds and Taylor's truck and
trailer, when loaded, weighs 80,000 pounds.
* There are blind spots from which truck drivers cannot see
what's behind them from the big rear-view mirrors that stick out
from the sides of their truck cabs.
* Truck drivers must drive very carefully and pay full attention
to their work when they're out on the highways.
* Large semi trucks need the length of a football field and
a half to stop when they're traveling at 55 mph.
* A truck the size of Taylor's is powered by a huge diesel engine
that gets only five miles to the gallon which means, "to
get the truck around the country, it costs a lot of money."
And so on it went.
Taylor, a 57-year-old Van Nuys, Calif., truck line owner, visited
Murlin Heights and three other Vandalia-Butler schools last week
in his capacity as president of Ol Blue, USA (United Safety Alliance,
Inc.), an non-profit organization he started to increase highway
safety awareness through education.
His effort includes traveling the country for three months each
year in his vintage Kenworth, using `Ol' Blue' as a special attraction
to gain the interest of children and adults alike.
"Why do I do it?' he repeated back when asked that question
following his Murlin Heights school performance. "These kids
here are the future drivers of America, and what they learn in
school today will help them through their lives."
"Whether you're in Los Angeles or Vandalia, people are not
paying attention when they're driving . . . There are more and
more accidents involving large vehicles . . . And my point is,
if we teach younger generations now about safety around large
vehicles, they can not only haunt their parents about safety,
but they will be better drivers when they get older."
Copyright 1999, Dayton Daily News