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    [ Ol'Blue, USA NEWS ARCHIVES ]


      Ol' Blue, USA NEWS for August, 1999

    Teaching truck safety at Murlin Heights

    By Jim Babcock, Staff Reporter

    DAYTON DAILY NEWS

    Brandon Tyzzer, 7, a first-grader at Murlin Heights Elementary School in Butler Twp., sits in the driver's seat while RJ Taylor, in the photo below, talks about 'Ol' Blue', his 1951 Kenworth truck. Murlin Heights was one of the stops for California resident Taylor who takes his truck to schools throughout the country to teach truck and highway safety to children.

    Photo courtesy of Monty Rhoades

    Photo Copyright by Monty Rhoades

    *Continued story from page 5 — below.

    VANDALIA

    SEMI TRUCK GETS FULL ATTENTION

    * Murlin Heights Elementary students get safety lesson from rig's traveling owner.

    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 vehicle safety.

    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



    Ol' Blue, USA's  News Editor Gary Bricken
     
     

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