Commercial trucks and passenger vehicles may share the roads smoothly most of the time but when things go wrong, the stakes are high.

Large trucks are involved in less than one per cent of all crashes on British Columbian roads but, when it comes to deaths, are part of nearly one-in-five fatal accidents.

A province-wide education campaign is underway to highlight the risks and urge drivers to "Be Truck Aware."

The campaign is part of B.C.'s Road Safety Strategy and a collaboration between the B.C. government and a number of road safety stakeholders in the province.

"We're asking drivers to consider their own driving behaviour around large trucks. If we want our roads to be safer, we first need to start with ourselves," said Lindsay Matthews, director of road safety at ICBC, in a press release.

Dangerous driving

Bruce Meadley, a commercial truck driver who works primarily around Metro Vancouver, said he regularly sees dangerous driving around his truck.

"I see a lot of passenger vehicles that exhibit very eroded driving behaviour and one thing that leads to it, is a competitive driving nature — 'I'm going to beat the truck, I'm going to beat the red light,'" he told CBC host of The Early Edition Rick Cluff.

A common occurrence, he said, is being cut off at intersections.

Meadley shared his experience of making left-hand turns and a car in the centre lane trying to "beat" him out of the intersection, not realizing the truck's need for more room to maneuver or its blind spots.

"One of the knowledge elements that we are trying to convey to passenger vehicle drivers is blind spots of commercial vehicles — areas around our vehicle that we cannot physically see," he said.

In crashes between cars and trucks, the passenger vehicle drivers are often found to be at fault. A review by RoadSafetyBC this summer reported that at least two-thirds of fatal accidents were caused by the passenger vehicle.

Meadley said drivers don't seem to fully recognize the risk to everyone of actions like illegal left-turns around a truck.

"They don't realize how much danger they are putting themselves in and how it endangers me and it can endanger the vehicle behind me that may be following that's not expecting me to make an abrupt stop," he said.

The "Be Truck Aware" campaign runs from Oct. 17-31 in B.C.

To hear more, click on the audio below:

With files from The Early Edition.