A team from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute revived a 1995 Peterbilt semi-truck in Hokie fashion.

Originally used just for research, the truck will now be the first fully dedicated truck for the institute’s Sharing the Road with Large Trucks program.

“I am honored to have been able to help with the restoration of this classic American icon to represent this outreach program and the university,” said Mark Golusky, the team leader: field operations. “The new purpose of this truck fits perfectly into our university motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), that it serves to help teach the public on safe driving habits while driving around large vehicles.”

The program itself is expanding in exciting ways. During the next year, it will be offered in 150 new schools and begin to incorporate virtual components.  

Since 2017, the Sharing the Road team has conducted safety demonstrations for over 28,000 students in six states and has multiple new states planned for the near future. Along with teaching strategies for safely interacting with large trucks, the program provides participants the opportunity to see a semi-truck up close and experience the large blind spots from a driver’s seat.

The Peterbilt will not only fill that role, but will do so while adorned with multiple Virginia Tech elements including

  • A representation of the Pylons above War Memorial Chapel on the front grille
  • Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) written at the top of the wind deflector
  • A Chicago maroon and burnt orange paint scheme
  • Homage to Virginia Tech’s military history
  • Orange stitching on black leather seats
  • Orange seatbelts, dashboard, and gearshift
  • A HokieBird hood ornament
  • A HokieBird gobble air horn

“We are excited to grow this important program to reach more drivers across the United States, especially with our revived Peterbilt,” said Matt Camden, team leader for the institute's Research to Practice and Outreach group. “Our goal is to connect with schools and communities in each state to share life-saving strategies for sharing the road with large trucks.”

The truck is just one of the significant changes coming to the program during the 2023-24 academic year.  

With $1.3 million in funding through four grants, the program will expand to an additional 150 schools in multiple states. The funding also supported the purchase of 10 virtual reality headsets that will allow people unable to climb into the driver’s seat of the tractor-trailer to still experience the life-saving demonstration, which is a critical component as the program continues to expand beyond just high school-age participants. The grants come from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the Delaware Department of Transportation.

“This program provides an excellent opportunity not only for vulnerable road users, but for drivers of all ages to learn how to safely navigate our many roadways, which we share on an everyday basis with these large trucks,” said Scott Tidwell, the institute's senior field research technician. “It is a very rewarding experience to put our research to practice and provide the general public with these tips and strategies that can save their lives.”

The Sharing the Road with Large Trucks program was recently featured on "Good Morning America" and Univision ahead of the busy holiday travel season to help educate travelers on the dangers of passing large trucks. It also was featured on "Curious Conversations," a Virginia Tech podcast series of free-flowing conversations with Virginia Tech researchers that take place at the intersection of world-class research and everyday life.

For more information or to schedule a visit with the 1995 Hokie Peterbilt, email sharingtheroad@vtti.vt.edu or visit the website.

Share this story