Thanksgiving 2017: Truck Drivers

I know I’m totally guilty of saying expletives with regards to truckers.  Being honest, most of it is due to my own impatience / selfishness.  Still once I realize, that I’m getting upset about a person that’s driving a 40-ton vehicle cautiously, things tend to fall back into perspective.  In fact, the more I’ve watched shows like Ice Road Truckers, and various documentaries about truck’in, the more I find that there’s just not enough gratitude expressed for these folks.

The funny thing is, you’d think a guy like me, would actually appreciate some of the work hazards that a trucker deals with for 8 – 12 hours a day.  I commute about 1 – 1.5 hours each way, which in the grand scheme of things, is nothing compared to these folks.  However, it’s enough to have a rough idea of what they might deal with.

  • People who cut you off.
  • People who are always break tapping, or worse, waiting till the last minute and slamming on their brakes.
  • Getting stuck in traffic
  • Dealing with inclement weather
  • Dealing with road rage drivers (I’m throwing my hand up as an occasional offender)
  • Being stuck in a vehicle, by yourself, with nothing but music or the radio to keep you company.
  • Dealing with drivers who drive stupid aggressive
  • Dealing with drivers who drive so timidly they cause all kinds of traffic issues

 

And really, that’s not even scratching the surface of what a longish commute is like.  Seriously, I used to start my day at work pissed off on an almost daily basis dealing with what I view as a bunch of morons on the road.  Then doing it again on the way home.  It’s a wonder that every trucker isn’t out there just plowing people off the road.  I can’t imagine dealing with that for 12 hours a day.  Heck, I hate driving 9 hours for a vacation destination, and that’s supposed to be the start of a fun day.

Most of these issues that I’m writing about, are orders of magnitude worse for truckers.  I didn’t even touch on the more unique challenges a trucker deal with, like…

  • Driving a really large vehicle on relatively narrow roads. Think of something like a small town or worse an old city.
  • Trying to find a loading dock for some new delivery, and compound that challenge by dealing with the above.
  • Having to keep a constant eye out for bridges that might be too short, or roads that aren’t truck approved.
  • Keeping a constant eye out for signs that most of us ignore.
  • Dealing with weigh stations and random vehicle inspections
  • 12 plus hours, day after day of being stuck in a cramped space by yourself. At best you have a CB with some colleagues to keep you company.  Or maybe they’ve got a pet / or family member riding with them at times.
    • A lot of us can get up and walk around, or even stand up.
    • Most of us can bring a healthy meal to work. I’m not saying it’s impossiable for them, but it’s probably nowhere near as easy.
  • Their bathroom breaks, require finding a rest area that’s tractor friendly, or using an old cup.
  • You think changing a flat suck on your car, imagine what it’s like on a tractor?
  • Dealing with towing all kinds of different loads and needing to make sure that your cargo arrives intact. I mean, just think about driving a tanker.  There is a liquid that is sloshing back and forth while you drive.  You hit the brakes, and then there’s this delayed surge that start pushing your vehicle forward.  Now take that delayed response, and it apply it to every direction.  You accelerate, and then all of a sudden something starts pulling you back, you turn left, and something wants to go right.  Just crazy impressive the skill it has to take to haul that safely.
  • How about driving extra wide / long loads. Yeah, they do get an escort a lot of times, but that doesn’t diminish the challenge of it.
  • You and I get a ticket, at most it’s a fine and a few points. A trucker gets a ticket, it could be the end of their career.
  • They break down, they’re not making money, and to compound that issue, its likely there’s something coming out of their pocket.

I’m sure there are a ton of more unique challenges, but I think you get the point.  These folks, have a hard job, that’s totally underappreciated, and worse, most of use effectively tell them to go pound sand based on the way we drive.

How can you be thankful?

I’m just taking a stab here at a few things.  Any truckers, please feel free to let me know if anything should be added.

  • Before you merge in front of a tractor, put your blinker on for a good ten seconds to give them time to slow up and build up a new buffer space. You might think that space is huge between them and the vehicle in front of them.  That’s because they need a lot more stopping distance than you and I.
  • Those white lines at traffic stops aren’t there to look pretty. Stop creeping over that line or braking past it.  That is engineered so tucks can make a turn without you needing to backup.
    • If you see a truck getting ready to make a tight turn on to your road, and you’re approaching that intersection. Just stop early and given them plenty of turning space.
  • If they were driving in the left lane, and are trying to move back into the right, don’t pass them on the right. Instead, flash your lights and let them over (presuming you’re in the right). And if you’re in the left, don’t trying to whip around them on the right.
  • Don’t sit next to them on a highway unless you have to. I’m just guessing here, but I imagine it’s really hard for them to see you.  You and I have some pretty bad blind spots, theirs are a lot worse.  If I were them, I’d be pretty darn scared to change lanes.
  • Get out of their way on a downhill. They need the momentum for the next hill.
  • When they’re broken down on the side of the road (or anyone for that matter), do everything in your power to slow down at the least, and better, move to the left if you can. In some states, this is becoming a law, so failure to do this, could result in a ticket.
  • If you see them attempting to pull into a loading dock, or a narrow road, or whatever, give them plenty of space and be patient. They’re just doing their job, they didn’t make the loading dock or road, but they’ve been forced to fit a big thing in a small space.

I’m sure there’s are other things we can do, but I suspect this would help a bit.

Closing:

To every trucker out there, thank you!  I know you folks are responsible for getting all the things we need (and want) from its source to the destination.  America would be in a world of hurt without you.