I just got back from driving another 2,400 km trip across the Canadian prairies, and now I’m sad.
I always looked up to you as professional drivers. I admired your skill and courage as you pushed through summer storms and winter blizzards. I respected the personal sacrifices demanded by an exhausting job that kept you far from your friends and family.
I loved to watch a semi starting up from a dead stop: the cab of the tractor torquing with sheer brute power; the big diesel engine growling and snorting. I always enjoyed the sight of your big rigs gobbling up the miles. I liked the thought that in each of those cabs was someone who loved the open road as much as I do.
But my last couple of trips have ended all that.
Maybe some of you are still dedicated professionals, but too many of you are downright dangerous. I spent my drive in dread of having to pass you. Five different truck drivers nearly wiped me off the road; veering into my lane and weaving back and forth. One even drove down the centreline for several miles at a time. If I’d had any safe place to pull over, I’d have called 911 and reported that guy, but I didn’t dare stop in case he caught up and actually succeeded in killing me on his next try.
I always give you lots of space and make sure I’m driving consistently so you don’t get any surprises. I know cars can be hard to see from where you sit so I always make sure I’m visible in your mirrors, but that didn’t matter because these guys weren’t watching their mirrors. Or the road.
Years ago we rarely saw a wrecked semi unless the road conditions were truly fearsome, but I saw three fresh wrecks during this trip. There was bright sunshine and unlimited visibility. A long straight four-lane divided highway on flat prairie. Perfect driving conditions. I don’t know what you’re doing up there in that cab, but you’re not paying attention to driving. Maybe you’re texting or talking on the phone or, like one guy I saw, reading a book propped against the steering wheel.
Why would you do that?
You know you can’t stop an 80,000-pound vehicle on a dime. You know what happens if you run into a smaller vehicle.
When I was young, we called you Knights of the Road. You looked out for us little folk, and you were heroes to stranded motorists. In a blizzard, we knew if we could find a semi and follow its taillights we’d be okay. Now you’re just as likely to lead us over the edge of a cliff.
I’m so disappointed. I feel as though the big brother or sister I’ve idolized all my life has turned out to be a fraud.
I know the days of stopping to help other motorists are long gone, made impossible by your ridiculously tight schedules and the added dangers of armed nutcases and heavy traffic. But do you really care so little about your professional pride and the safety of other motorists that you won’t even bother to drive a straight line?
Come back, Knights of the Road. I miss you. I miss the joy of driving and the sense of safety you used to give me.
And I don’t want to become a grease spot under your wheels.
With sincere sadness,
* * *
Sorry it’s not my regular foolishness today. I usually love driving that trip, but those drivers really spoiled it for me. I guess I’m lucky they didn’t spoil it permanently.
Just to show I haven’t completely lost my sense of humour, though, I’d like to share a little personal revelation I had somewhere around the middle of Saskatchewan. I was singing along with my music as usual when I suddenly realized that I am incapable of screeching out high notes without simultaneously clenching the steering wheel in a white-knuckled grip and contorting my face in a horrible grimace.
Between my awful caterwauling and my scary expression, it’s no wonder the truckers try to run me off the road.
P.S. Something weird is going on with either WordPress or my domain today. I’m sorry if the blog won’t behave – I’m trying to figure out the problem. In the mean time, as they say: “Call me if you don’t get this message”.
25 thoughts on “Dear Truckers…”
You should remove the “Truck Drivers Can Suck It” bumper sticker from the back of your car.
Nope, don’t have one of those. But maybe the big target painted on the side of my car is part of the problem…
Diane it sounds like a very frightful adventure and makes cycling in Italy look completely reasonable. Sorry to hear your road trips have become so challenging. 😦
I still feel much safer in a car on the TransCanada than I’d feel on a bicycle in Italy! You’re much more adventurous than I.
Most of my trip was actually quite enjoyable – there’s still a lot of empty prairie out there so I got some nice driving in. It’s just that I could have done without the sporadic injections of adrenaline. 😉
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I also drove professionally for a number of years. I started as a school bus driver and ended as a driver of a wheelchair lift-equipped van. I also taught some of the state mandated classes to drivers of STS (Special Transportation Services) vehicles. I always drove the most precious cargo of all- people.
I am amazed I made it through the school bus training. On my first day behind the wheel I managed to drive over a large rock placed near the edge of a homeowner’s property to ward off those who don’t stay on the roadway. I didn’t even know I went up and over it. From my vantage point I didn’t even feel the rear of the bus rise or fall. It horrified me that the stone was as big as a crouching child. I did get a lot better at driving the bus.
I’ve had to dodge the occasional wheel that came off a trailer that was subsequently hit by an eighteen wheeler and sent sailing over my windshield, the lawnmower that bounced off a landscaper’s trailer, the crazy motorist who slid on black ice past her turn who decided that it was a good idea to back up to her turn, despite the other car and my bus that came down that same icy hill without an escape route. I witnessed a car that passed another schoolbus on its right while the stop arm was extended and the red warning lights were flashing. The alert bus driver stopped the children from exiting his bus and kicked his wastebasket out the door hitting the offending driver’s car. He stopped to yell at the bus driver. (We both got all the information needed to prosecute the dangerous driver.)
It got to the point that encountering the normal stupidity, carelessness, and rudeness of other motorists no longer drove my heart rate up. It was to be expected.
I have to agree that there seem to be far too many professional drivers that drive as badly or worse than the average amateur. It is unacceptable to see them tailgating, weaving from lane to lane without signaling, failing to stay centered in their own lane, cutting off others who are merging, etc. I still believe most professional drivers are alert, careful and extremely courteous drivers who let the craziness of others roll off without ruffling any feathers.
I wish all drivers, pro or not, would take comfort and pride in doing whatever they can do to make the drive as safe and pleasant as possible for everyone they encounter on their way to their destination. Everyone, please allow plenty of time for the trip, leave more following distance than recommended, keep alert for hazards, and be the most courteous driver on the road and hopefully we’ll all get to our destinations safely.
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You’re a braver person than I! I’d never turn my back on a bus full of kids. 😉
Seriously, though, I wouldn’t want the responsibility of carrying people’s children. I already worry enough about the lives that are in my hands when I drive my own car. A few weeks ago I saved at least three lives, just because I was paying attention when the guy behind me decided to pass on a curve. I had spotted an oncoming car through a gap in the trees; he obviously hadn’t. I braked hard and he got safely past, but if I’d taken my eyes off the road just for that instant, there would have been a head-on collision at 100 km/hr.
I hope everybody listens to your advice – sometimes we forget that being a few minutes late isn’t worth dying over.
The real problem is lack of drivers are forcing companies to hire whoever (whomever???) they can find that meets the licence qualifications. They do not have either the Knights of the Road attitude nor in many cases the hours of experience
I think you’re right; and the folks on my Facebook page brought up another good point: even the best drivers get dangerous when they’re exhausted, and the transport companies’ unrealistic timetables pretty well force drivers to stay on the road even though they haven’t had adequate rest. I don’t think we’ll see a good solution any time soon.
For years I used to think the same way about the “Knights of the Road”. I have had to change my view some what over time tho’. Big rigs and even passenger vehicles were supposed to be safe from re-treads, they were supposed to be outlawed but evidently they are being eased back in again from what I’ve seen all over the highways recently. I have come close only once from being tagged by a huge piece of tread flying off a rig. I saw it coming and it was like time standing still. No where to go as I was on a long causeway with just water on both sides. Sheesh. Just by the grace of all higher beings did that sucker bounce in front of me and then skimmed my roof and went over the side into the water. Soon as I got off the causeway I pulled over and seriously pried my fingers off the wheel and reached for my rescue inhaler! :0
It used to be that when a big rig wanted to pull over in front of a passenger car he’d put the signal on and, as the smaller car, we would flash our lights on and off (daytime) and dim to bright and back (nighttime) to let them know it was clear to move over. Sad to say that seldom happens any more. Like you I don’t like running too close to them either, never know just when they may slide over into my lane or not. Some still do signal and look, but more often they don’t.
Glad you made it through your trip safely tho’. Stay alert out there gal!
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Thanks! And yikes, what a scary story. There’s nothing worse than knowing there’s nothing you can do besides waiting to see if you’re going to get creamed. I’m glad you didn’t! 🙂
Ill give them some slack when I can do that drive without seeing shards of blown tires all over the road. I read years ago that they were using microchips to track the tire to the owner. How’s this going? In the meantime they care about as much as anyone else on the road. Its amazing there arent more ‘grease spots’ on the highways.
That’s true – I don’t trust anybody on the road, no matter what size of vehicle they’re driving. But I was shocked that I didn’t see any stupid tricks at all from ‘civilian’ drivers this trip. The ‘professionals’ were the scary ones. I even saw a school bus veering off onto the shoulder before yanking it back between the lines. Yikes.
I used to do that for a living for a while years ago. To this day, I can still put just about any tractor/trailer combination anywhere it needs to go.
And unless the truck driver is actually looking out the mirror toward the back of the truck when it happens, the driver may not know when a tire on the back of the trailer blows and comes apart. No kidding. That’s a long way from the cab, and one tire out of eighteen is not too noticeable when it blows. On the tractor, sure, it’s easier to tell, but it’s still not guaranteed if the tire is the inside tire on a back dual.
Trucks are noisy critters. If not, it’s because it’s a high-end, top-of-the-line rig with lots of sound insulation. The noise hides blow outs, and the insulation hides blow outs. Trust me, it’s hard to tell, regardless of what you are driving.
A guy I knew was following an eighteen wheeler years ago in a freshly restored ’57 Chevy Bel Aire convertible, top down, of course. A trailer tire blew its tread, and the ‘alligator’ went right over the windshield and curled up in the back seat. Ruined the upholstery. Melted it.
It’s small wonder that truck tires fail catastrophically. Shoot some truck tires on the freeway sometime with a thermal gun. You know, those pistol-grip remote thermometers. You’ll find that truck tires, new, perfectly inflated, not overloaded, sometimes run hour after hour at 300 degrees F. Three-zero-zero degF.
I have no problem with equipment failures. Stuff happens. But morons, there’s no excuse for ’em. Fire ’em. Make ’em get a real job.
That’ll learn ’em. 🙂
I wondered about that – those tires are a long way from the cab. And I guess the driver couldn’t do much to clear them off the road even if he did notice the blowout. At 300 degrees, it’s not like he can just hop out and sling them over to the side of the road.
A few years ago an entire trailer axle let go when a truck was passing through a town near here. The wheel/axle assembly crashed through two rooms of a house and came to rest in the kitchen where it promptly started a fire. Amazingly nobody was injured, but the owner said if he hadn’t been running late that day, he’d have been eating breakfast right where the whole thing landed. I wonder if he went out a bought a lottery ticket after that.
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This is so true
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Eek! Self-driving cars are ‘under trial’ here in Blighty right now… I haven’t seen one, but can’t really see them being very good comparing them to the human-driven ones which are utterly disastrous. We have trucks over here similar to those you experienced recently Diane. Obviously it isn’t the vehicle that’s the problem, but the person in it… but they’d deny that. They’re perfectly safe reading whilst driving… they’ve done it for years, after all! We had a terrible accident involving two trucks on one of our motorways on Monday lunchtime that closed the stretch of road, and caused several towns to become car parks for a few hours. My Inner Cynic hopes neither driver was reading – but you can’t be too certain nowadays.
Hope your letter to the Universe gets through to those who need to hear it and things improve for you soon; I feel exactly the same as you, if that’s any consolation.
Oh, and when I tried to access your blog earlier on my mobile phone, I completely lost my internet connection… but only with your blog. Very strange. It’s OK now though, I’m on my computer, and connected first time. Blame it on the Full Blood Moon we’re currently experiencing… atmospheric interference and all that!
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I think it was my blog, Tom – there was some odd stuff happening with it as well as several of my other websites. Maybe we can blame it on the lunar eclipse we had here this morning!
And that’s the problem for all drivers, isn’t it? We’re all “perfectly safe” doing what we’ve always done… until we aren’t. I guess some of it is sheer luck, but I try to exert as much influence over luck as I can! 🙂
Sorry you had such a scary experience. It’s too bad, because while trucks remain huge, vehicles are getting smaller and smaller to promote fuel efficiency. We’re like mice among Big Foot.
I’m always nervous to drive behind or beside trucks. The only time I like it is in a blizzard, as you mention. I like to follow their lights. Hopefully that won’t become more of a hazard than a help.
I’m sure there are still lots of excellent drivers out there; the problem is you can’t tell which are the bad ones until they run you over. Wouldn’t it be nice if truckers had some way to signal that they see us? Then at least we’d know which ones were paying attention.
Yikes. Glad you made it back from the road intact, Diane. The next car I buy will be a self-driving car. Or maybe I’ll just wait for teleportation technology to come to fruition…
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I really, really want to learn how to teleport! My problem is, I don’t think I’d trust a self-driving car – I’ve worked with far too many computers in my lifetime. 😉
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The self-driving car? You have an inkling of the terror I felt when I first heard that Ford was teaming up with Microsoft to enhance the driving experience. Now it’s just funny.
Think about it. The car company whose name is forever linked with the phrase Found On Road Dead joins with the company that invented the Blue Screen of Death.
It begs the question, “Just how entertained do drivers need to be while they are supposed to be driving?”
I fear the Knights of the Road are gone. They pretty much have to be. As I look around, I see no one to replace them.
I know. I’m bummed, too. 😦
That’s it in a nutshell, isn’t it? “How entertained do drivers need to be?” My answer would be “Not at all!” Drivers should keep their eyes on the road and if that’s too boring maybe they shouldn’t be driving long distances. ‘Course that’s easy for a prairie kid to say – it doesn’t take much to entertain me. 😉
That Ford/Microsoft thing? Ha! That is funny! And in another couple of decades I’ll be riding in a self-driving car just like everybody else, but I’ll be the only person sitting with my hands on the wheel and my foot poised over the brake. Just in case.
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No, you won’t be the only one. 🙂