Transport trucks no match for Wreckhouse gusts. (Click here to see full story on CBC Website)

Winds in one of the most notorious stretches of highway in Newfoundland and Labrador proved too much for some truckers Wednesday.
Two large transport trucks were blown off the highway at Wreckhouse, which for decades has had a reputation for high winds, often topping 100 kilometres per hour.

Education of New Drivers

My daughter is currently preparing for her beginners licence. She is taking a drivers education class at school and studying a drivers handbook. I asked her just a few days ago if there was any coverage at all regarding commercial transport (big trucks) to which she replied, "I think there is only one question in the handbook and nothing mentioned in the class".

Folks, we have a problem, and I hope you agree that we've always had one. I would find it interesting to know if any such education is provided in any state or province to our regular class drivers.

With the decrease in railroad shipments throughout North America and population increase in overdrive there are higher demands on goods everywhere, thus increasing the volume road transport.

There are so many factors playing against new, (and experienced) drivers, when it comes to commercial equipment vs. regular vehicles on our roads today.

Most people have the common sense to know it takes quite a streach for a train to stop, so to play chicken with a train is a stupid move. That's why we have train crossing rules and some education and training involving busses, and crossings, etc. Most everyone should be aware those laws are not there for the train conductors safetly moreover our own.

So if there is a far greater probibility of interacting with multible commercial vehicles in day to day life apposed to the number of trains, why is there no information supplied to our regular drivers?

I'm willing to bet only a tiny fraction of the general population of regular drivers with no commercial operating experience know the factors involved.

Some of the things to consider are; weight, speed, articulation, momentum, grade of the hills, sleep deprevation of a driver, including the regular driver, (not just the truck driver). Roll back, lighting on any given unit, surface of the road, weather, rest, passing, mood, and the list goes on. These are just some of the important factors.

There are so many things that happen to a commercial driver every day. Here is a list of dangerous interactions that I have experienced on a regular run, and the entire list too. I have it worded as advice opposed to stories.

  • Cutting off a tractor trailer is stupid, the driver may not stop the unit in time.
  • High beems still blind a truck driver too, just because they sit higher makes no difference.
  • Tractor trailers have a big blind spot, when passing, it's a good idea to stay in the driver's line of sight for a few seconds. As you pull out to pass, stay near the tail of the trailer, flash your lights a couple time and take over the unit cautiously.
  • When a big truck is stopped at an intersection, depending on the of weight, and other factors, there is a chance of rollback, as the driver proceeds to move forward, the unit may roll back a few inches, or even feet, especially if on an incline. Don't get so close while behind the truck.
  • Tailgating is stupid anywhere with any size vehicle.
  • A driver has to battle extreme and ever changing lighting conditions due to weather and opposing traffic. When dawn or dusk approaches, take special caution when passing or approaching the unit. With any size vehicle, if a driver is heading into the sun, you may illiminated from sight. And again, watch those high beams.
  • Don't ever cut behind a truck when it's backing up. And if you ever help guide a driver backing up, remember, if you can't see the driver in their mirror, the driver can't see you.
  • If a driver is forced off the road or the loads integrity is comprimised, the contents could be explosive, corrosive, biological hazard, etc.

Please keep this in mind

You may have only been driving an hour or two after a good meal. The driver of a big truck may have stopped and ate, used the washroom etc, 4 hours ago as the law demands, but may have been "driving" for a far greater amount of time, dealing with a list of very stressful issues, some being traffic issues and others being, money, being away from family, trip and dispatch problems, mechanical failure, weather challenges, sleep/rest deprivation, health, and the list could go on.

These commercial drivers deal with these issues EVERY time they pull on to a road until they are off or sleeping. Remember, this is a short list, the list of things dealt with may far exceed this information.

Please give some respect, you may not always get it back from every driver out there, but respect for the driver, the truck, the contents of the load and all the factors involved may save your life and the lives of others.

Now go force any new drivers you know, to read this.

Make a Stand for What's Right

When was the last time someone who drives for a living make a stand for what's right?

Besides, the common Joe wouldn't want the Professional Driver to do whats right anyway.

You see, when a "company" driver tells his dispatcher he's too tired and has to pull over and go to sleep, he knows he may be messing up his chances of any happiness in the near future. It's rare to have a dispatcher who will grant you immunity from the elimination round! That's no joke by the way. There will be a fight over the phone as a man tries to explain how tired he is. Hopefully he does the right thing and actually pulls over. But if he does, as the dispatcher hangs up or throws down the phone, he's got a star next to your name, and it's not a shiny one!

You see, the dispatcher's ass is on the line because it's his job to orchestrate the movement of freight in the best possible way to ensure on-time delivery through the fastest means possible. That means, if Bill says he's tired and pulls over, the dispatcher simply has to wait until Bill wakes up again. The freight stays with Bill until Bill wakes up, maybe has a shower, a breakfast even, if he's really lucky he will properly fill out his logbook and then arrive at his destination several hours late. After arguing his case with the dispatcher the night before, now he has to argue his case with a cranky customer, then after several days of this, he has to go home and hope his wife is not cranky because he couldn't find the time to call home.

Now here comes the punishment from Mr. dispatcher, sometimes referred to as the second wife mainly due to the fact if the dispatcher don't get what they want, there will be hell to pay...BIG TIME! The dispatchers have all the info written down and when you ask for a good short run so you can get home early to see little Jeanie's graduation from elementary school, you get the long dirty loads because you went to sleep one night because you were a big baby and wanted to sleep.

It's a tit for tat world and it destroys people, their marriages, their lives, their very identity sometimes. Driving is similar to farming or fishing, it gets into your blood and you learn to love it and hate it. You try to make everyone around you happy from hundreds or thousands of miles away, dealing with the laws, the weather, time restrictions, traffic congestion, mechanical failure, ever changing rules, or routes, directions, loads, lack of rest, health, hygiene, lack of mental stimulation, lack of camaraderie, short on money, short on food, no way to communicate to loved ones for some and dealing with morons racing around in little cars and vans, and have no idea what they are messing with. It's hectic.

With all this said, the vast majority of Professional Drivers are really good people, and when the chips are down, they would help anyone out. They are the ones who supply most everything within their own continents or countries. I wonder if the common joe in his Ford Mini Van or brand new Audi really knows, that a truck driver does not have to park his truck and make a stand for what is right, weather it be on his own or a large scale strike, all a truck driver has to really do, but the "entire" country of drivers would have to do this too... is simply follow every law to a "T" for about a month and they would cripple the country. They would bring the nation to a grinding halt as if it were a virus.

Why? Because the rules that are set down for drivers to follow are broken everyday on a massive scale all over North America so everyone can have their BBQ right on time for the flyer sale, so the gas makes it to the pumps on time, so the parts get in to a mill that loses a drivers annual salary's worth every hour that it's down, so the mail with all the tax returns gets in on time, so Mr. Man's new Lincoln Town Car gets in as promised. The list goes on, and on and on.
When a driver gets to any given spot and has to choose, do I lie on my log book just to get the load through, do I pop another pill just to get the load through, do I risk innocent lives just to get the load through, or do I pull over, go to sleep and go through all this again on a few days plus the punishment of a crappy load, something that doesn't pay.

If you guys reading this are thinking the driver should always pull over, maybe the next time your windsheild gets sprayed with muddy water from a semi, or a semi is driving too slow, or a semi is gaining on you too fast, or your ugly expensive blinds are not in as promised, maybe you might stop and think, I wonder where he's going, I wonder how far from home he is, I wonder how long he's been pulled over, and maybe my blinds are on his truck.

YEE HAW! (The New Driver)

I was a new driver once upon a time. But for some reason, back then, I never quite seen myself as I see these new drivers being turned out today.

When you look at them sitting on their air ride seats fully decompressed, behind the wheel, all you can really see is the logo on their ball caps. How the hell can they see where they are going? There's no seat belts on, the heavy metal is turned up as if you were at a rock concert, they switch the first 5 gears from the low side with the engine brake on I might add. When I tried that I damn near broke my neck.

These young ones come fresh out of school and tell tales of miles, women, clubs, fights, cops, heavy loads, etc. I guess to ask about the weather, or how nice it was coming through the Rockies or the coast, or how the little woman is doing, I would be a bore I suppose. Nope, these guys are young and dumb & full of Diesel! Flat out! As long as the diesel is plenty, the engine brake works and the cheques are coming in, nothing else matters.

Especially the speed limit signs, the lights at the intersections, the general rules of the road. I live in a small city where the speed limit on the main through-fair is 60km/hr and has 13 intersection lights from each end of town. With the heaviest and most oversized loads, these young and sometimes mid aged idiots fly through doing 80 to 90 km/hr! Yes the local law enforcement no doubt is the problem, but what do you do to help stop it?

I seen so many near misses as these guys blow through red lights just so they won't have to gear down and gear up half a dozen times, and when someone like myself obeys the speed limit, they crawl up your back end trying to intimidate you out of the lane and at an inch away from hitting you, they swerve into the next lane, overtake you and blow their horn like I'm the S.O.B. and if you're really lucky, you'll catch a finger too.

Try calling the 1 800 # pasted to the back of their wagons, I bet the driver won't even hear of it. Some companies are good but not many of them will repremand the drivers. After all, where's your proof?

I wonder who's to blame for the speed, and the string of laws broken by these new drivers? Is it the schools not doing as much as they can? it the industry, squeezing every ounce of "right", out of the driver to get the product moved at the expense of some poor common Joe's life because the "Professional Driver" wasn't man enough to make a stand for what was right.

(SEE: Stand for What's Right?)

Road Rage - How it starts

I don't think for one minute that not one soul out there has any idea what I am talking about here when I say, "Road Rage is an epidemic".

It is most likely one of the leading contributors to accidents on the road. I was hauling 62,000 lbs of pop down a long steep grade on day. I had my tractor trailer moving at about 55 to 60 km/hr at the top of the hill as I made the decent. By time I reached the 3/4 point near the bottom, I was moving at 80 to 90km.

The very bottom of the hill also takes a long left turn, very comfortable at 100km/hr. There's also a logging road that cuts across the highway. This road is visible from the top of the hill and from the other end of the turn at the bottom. From that logging road, what ever is coming from each hill is also visible.

As I approached the bottom, I could clearly see an old model pickup truck stopped at his stop sign.

Should I dare myself to "have" to tell you what the driver of that pick up truck did next?.......
He engaged his signal light for my direction and slowly began to move out onto the highway. By now I switched religions about 3 times and said some words you won't find in a bible. Make no mistake, this guy had a death wish or he had just escaped from a mental institution. He wasn't stopping and I couldn't stop in time, not with that weight and momentum.

I was under the speed limit, I had my flashers on because I was heavy, it was raining and the area was spooky because of this very scenario. It was like I seen it coming. There is nothing a single soul could tell me, to convince me I was in the wrong. This moron was not going to wait 10 more seconds.

At 90km/hr with 62,000 lbs of liquid, I missed that elderly man by a hair, and I mean a hair. He drove for about another 100 ft in his direction and stopped on the shoulder of the hill from where I came. I had slowed down enough to see him through my window and my mirror for a short time. When I looked back, he had pulled over and took an axe and a kit bag (rucksack) out of the back of his pick up. He was going in the woods trapping....

After a safety-minded professional driver goes through this several times, it brings on road rage. I would like to know what constructive ways aside from personal roadside altercations and ramming through the guy could a driver take upon himself to change the situation. Something is wrong with the system here.

I'm not at it anymore, but I worry about those who are.