Makin' it Home...
‘Tis the Season for the crops to be coming
in from the fields and being shipped out to the worldwide market! Along with
this, comes an increase in truck traffic. While we always have a great deal of
big rig traffic, this time of year it is especially heavy. And we all need to
know how to share the road.
I have held Class “A” permits myself, and this has given me insight into the
challenges these men and women face every day. More importantly, I am a
trucker’s wife, and that has helped me to be aware of what kind of people truck
drivers really are. They are men and women, just like you and me. Truck drivers
have families they want to get home to, families that need them, and want them
to make it home again safely. I know, because I fear for my husband’s safety on
the roads. So, what makes them different from us? Simply put, they drive a
Many people seem to think of truckers as uneducated. I assure you, they are not.
I personally have known truck drivers who were business owners, doctors and
lawyers before they came into this field. All the same, they have to pass a far
more extensive test to get their license than that of the general motoring
public. Moreover, their license is reviewed frequently, and those who are deemed
“unsafe”, do lose their license. Truck drivers accrue points faster than the
rest of us. For example, while we don’t get any points against our records for
an out-of-state “fix-it” ticket, they DO!! In addition, we may get 1 point
against our record for a violation, they get 1 ½ points for the same violation.
Many times these drivers are the first on the scene of an accident, and they
come prepared. Law requires them to have a first aid kit, and a fire
extinguisher. They are taught to safely and properly secure an accident scene,
as well as how to handle Hazardous Materials. They know when to remove people
from around a Hazardous Materials spill, and how far they need to move them. Do
There was once a time when one of these drivers saved my aunt’s life. She was
coming down I-5, traveling to the right of the outside lane. She was almost
asleep at the wheel, dozing at 60 mph! A young truck driver noticed this, and
placed his rig between her and the danger on her right hand side. He was
traveling off the road, and blowing his air-horns, risking his own life! She
pulled the car back on the road, and allowed him to go in front of her. When she
pulled over, so did he. She told him to go on, and she stayed there, alongside
the road, and got some sleep. Granted, she should not have been driving while so
sleepy, but that day her Guardian Angel drove 18 wheels!
One of the biggest challenges a truck driver faces is people in normal cars
(a.k.a. four wheelers), drivers who are not aware of just how to share the road
with that truck! It is not uncommon for that truck to weigh up to 80,000 lbs
when it’s loaded! At 55 mph, in order for them to stop, it takes more than 4
times the stopping distance that our car takes. For those who pass and then cut
right in front of these rigs, it is extremely difficult for them to stop in time
to avoid hitting you! While many times the truck driver will be blamed by the
other driver, in reality, it is the other driver’s fault that this type of
A car riding closely behind a rig does not allow the car’s driver to see around
it. Still, many people will drive so close to the back of a truck that they are
an accident waiting to happen. If the truck driver has to stop suddenly, for
example, because of the car that just cut him off, the car behind him is going
to hit the back of that truck. It is going to do damage, and most likely,
someone will get hurt.
Another cause of major problems for these truck drivers is people passing them
on the right. I cannot count the number of times I have seen a truck sitting at
a corner, stuck, because someone was “just trying to save a few minutes”, and
was not really thinking. When you have that much trailer hanging out there, you
HAVE to make WIDE turns. People think that this is the perfect opportunity to
squeeze through that little opening. While they will sometimes get through there
unharmed, many times they do not. It may save you just a few moments to squeeze
through that hole, but it may be a danger to your own life! Don’t risk it!
Finally, I don’t know one truck driver that is not concerned about cars riding
in their blind spots. I’m sure you have all seen the mud-flaps and signs on the
trucks reminding you of their blind spots and urging you to stay out of them. My
husband is often telling me that he wishes everyone realized that if you cannot
see the driver, he cannot see you. When a car driver is riding alongside a rig
in the driver’s blind spot, that driver cannot see you if he needs to change
lanes to avoid a vehicle on the shoulder, or a large piece of debris in the
road. While what you may see is a driver moving over into your lane carelessly,
it is not carelessness on his part. He simply cannot see you!
I have been in the truck many times with my husband as well as with other
drivers and I have seen some of these “near misses”. I don’t know how these
Gentlemen avoided hitting someone or something. Not only is that driver worried
about himself, and getting his load to where it needs to be, he is worried about
the cars on the road and their safety as well.
It is my opinion that these are some of the safest drivers out there.
Yes, these rigs are slow, and yes, they do take a lot of the road, but they are
necessary to our way of life. Without them, how would any of the products of the
World get to market? How would anything we buy at the local department or
grocery store get there? Remember, “If you’ve got it, a trucker brought it”!
Most importantly, I ask you all to remember that these are men and women, who
like my husband, want to come home to their families. Help make it possible for
them to do so.
To treat these rigs with courtesy and respect could save YOUR life!
©2005 Yvonne Hensley
Please do not reprint without permission
|About the author:
Yvonne is a moderator for the ATW community and is a dispatcher, farmer, painter, mom, aunt, daughter, wife
and still finds time to squeeze in writing a fantastic article supporting our