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This Diary is a mash-up of several Diaries I did a year ago, that I thought appropriate to rerun with the start of Summer driving season and the 50,000+ Kossacks we've added since they ran. They have an entirely political purpose: helping Democratic voters survive to vote in November. After that I don't really give a damn what you do unless it delays me

The flatbed truck, loaded with steel pipe out of Chattanooga westbound for Oklahoma City, was 30 miles out of Little Rock, cruise control set right at the posted speed limit. 200 feet behind him was another tractor trailer, pulling a dry van loaded with shelves and fixtures for a new Auto Zone store in California. There had been a light sprinkle earlier, but the road was mostly dry

The Pontiac Transport minivan was headed for Memphis, with a perfectly average couple in the front and their two little girls in their car seats in the back, going to see their Grandma.

The two teenage boys on the overpass were bored.

It probably seemed fairly harmless to put a rock in the plastic shopping bag they found in a ditch and drop it off the overpass to watch somebody dodge it.

When the bag fluttered down in front of the minivan driver he jerked the wheel to the left, dropping his left front tire off the pavement, sending the van onto the wet grass in the shallow median. With the cruise control set at 70 mph it came out into the westbound lanes at full speed. The driver of the flatbed got off on the shoulder as far as he could go to the right, the dry van behind him locked all 18 wheels and drifted to the right.

The sloped nose of the minivan went under the left side tandems of the flatbed; the 17,000 pounds they were carrying flipped it out the back like a potato chip in a high wind.

When the smoke and the dust settled the flatbed was off the road on the grass verge on the right side of the road; the dry van behind it was stopped on the shoulder; the minivan was upright out to the right of the flatbed, the highest part maybe waist high off the ground. The two truck drivers got to it almost simultaneously, the dry van driver carrying a 3' crowbar, their only available tool. The only sign of life was a continuous keening whimper coming from the center area of the minivan. The crowbar was inadequate to gain access.

An Arkansas State Trooper arrived about ten minutes later, without any tools that would gain access to the minivan, so he joined the truck drivers in standing helpless, listening to that godawful whimpering, refusing to loan his sidearm to the dryvan driver so he could at least do the humane thing.

About 25 minutes after the crash an ambulance arrived, equipped with all manner of medical supplies and equipment and two well-trained paramedics, but no tools that would gain access to the interior of the minivan. About this time the nature of the keening from inside changed; one of the girls had fallen silent.

About 35 minutes after the crash a Fire Department Rescue Team arrived, having covered the nearly 50 miles from their station as quickly as they could. As if a malevolent God with a twisted sense of humor was in charge, the whimpering faded out as they unloaded their equipment...

The foregoing happened, in front of me. I was driving the dry van. Out of compassion I have no doubt that the family of the dead was told, as is standard in car/truck wrecks, that the dead "died instantly". Based on 15 years and some million-and-a-half miles on American roads, and witnessing dozens (or hundreds) of such crashes, I can tell you it's rarely actually true. What it really means is that the fate of the dead was sealed upon impact, regardless of how long it took them to get there.

Before we dive into how one can best avoid a fate worse than quick death, let's review some physics. Most passenger vehicles on American roads typically weigh between 3,000 and 4,500 pounds. The biggest passenger vehicle generally encountered, the H1 Hummer, weighs just over 10,000 pounds. My Freightliner, pulling an empty 53'dry van trailer, weighs between 32,000 and 33,000 pounds. Empty. Under Federal (and State) regulations my maximum legal gross weight is 80,000 pounds, 20 times that of a minivan, eight times what a Hummer weighs. My tires weigh about 120 pounds each, and are inflated to between 100-120 psi. Just my fuel tanks, when full, weigh as much as the average passenger car. If we get tangled up, whether it's your fault, my fault or nobody's fault at all, you will lose. Every time.

I cannot adequately teach anyone what they really need to know about sharing roads with commercial trucks in this forum; riding with me for a week would be ample, but I'll try. Since the vast majority of miles driven by trucks is on Interstates and freeways, and most fatal wrecks occur there, that will be my focus.

It takes me longer to do anything in an 80,000 pound truck that's 65 feet long and bends in the middle than a car; accelerating, changing lanes, stopping. Please bear that in mind.

Entering an Interstate in a car should be a simple process; there's a clearly marked acceleration lane to allow you to match speed with traffic. Use it. Jumping out into a traffic lane at 40 mph in front of a truck going 65 apparently seems like a good idea to a lot of people, but I've never figured out why. Most truckers will move over a lane if they can to give merging traffic a clear lane, but running alongside them in the acceleration lane assuming they can or will, then having to brake sharply at the end of the lane (or darting just in front of them) is downright stupid. If you follow a truck onto an Interstate it will seem like it takes it forever to get up to speed; it seems that way to the guy driving it too. The dumbest thing you can do is to pop out from behind it without bothering to check on the traffic in the next lane that is already at speed. The extra ten seconds you have to remain behind the truck is rarely fatal; the pop-out move frequently is.

Interstates and freeways, by definition, have two or more traffic lanes travelling the same direction separated from opposing traffic by a barrier or median. READ ALL THE SIGNS!! In many places, especially in and near metropolitan areas, there are restrictions on which lanes trucks are allowed to use. The most popular on three-lane roads has become "Trucks must use right two lanes". This Rule makes the center lane the Passing lane for trucks, which makes it a piss-poor place for dawdling. "Keep Right Except to Pass" and "Slower Traffic Keep Right" are, next to speed limits, the most widely ignored signs (and traffic regulations) out there. Most of the time when you look in your mirror (those shiny things that let you look behind you that few people use) and see nothing but the grill of a Peterbilt it's because you are failing to "Keep Right Except to Pass". That driver doesn't want to tailgate you, he wants to pass; getting out of the way would be a good plan at this point, but not dawdling with an open lane to your right would be a better plan in future.

There are two safe places to drive in relation to heavy trucks; behind them or in front of them. Beside them is a really bad idea for a variety of reasons. First, it's much harder for the driver to stay aware of exactly where you are, particularly on the "off" (right) side, and you really want the driver of any truck around you to know exactly where you are and where you intend to go. Running over you is terribly inconvenient.

Perhaps the top reason to avoid running alongside a truck is those tires I mentioned earlier. The majority of trailer tires on commercial vehicles are recaps, inflated to 120 psi. When one lets go it can throw chunks weighing 50 pounds or more at velocities well exceeding the truck's speed, and sounds like a grenade going off. Scares the hell out of me when it happens 50 feet behind me; it can (and does) knock the window out of a car that's alongside, even if no rubber hits the car. If you are going to pass a truck, go ahead and get it completed. DON'T DAWDLE ALONGSIDE!

Trucks have a modern innovation many people are apparently unfamiliar with, lights down each side (and on each corner) that flash (cars have these too but they are rarely used). These are known to professional drivers as "directional signals" or simply "turn signals". If you will watch carefully these give you advance notice of where that vehicle is going to be in the very near future, which is a very good place to arrange to not be when it gets there. They are NOT an indication that it's time to speed up so you aren't behind it; behind it beats under it every time. There will also be times when you see a truck in front of you suddenly start flashing these "directional signals" on both sides at the same time. This configuration is known as "emergency flashers" and usually means there is some bad shit of some kind ahead you probably want to hit as slowly as possible.

When traffic is heavy you will notice that trucks tend to leave a gap between their front bumper and the vehicle ahead. While this space may look invitingly like it is custom designed to fit your car it is actually the driver's estimate of his safe stopping distance in case the traffic in front stops suddenly. If you dart into that space and traffic does stop you just made his stopping distance fall somewhere between your headrest and dash. This is almost always unpleasant. Should you need to move into such a space simply pull up alongside the space, match your speed to the speed of the vehicle that defines the front of the space, find the control for YOUR "directional signal" (usually a stick protruding from the left side of your steering column, push it up for "right" or down for "left", with a little practice you'll figure it out), and give the truck a moment to give you room, they almost always will.

Allow me a sidebar to explain one of the great mysteries of the road, the Phantom Traffic Jam. Everybody experiences these, where multiple lanes of traffic sharply slow or stop, but no cause is ever encountered. These are almost invariably caused by assholes who run up almost to their desired Exit three or four lanes to the left of the actual Exit Ramp, then have to force their way across multiple lanes, essentially stopping two lanes at a time until they finally get to the lane they should have been in a mile back. Avoid being one of these Assholes (which the Law should allow me to squash).

Sharing the road with trucks is a fact of life in America; EVERYTHING you eat, drink, sit on, work with or play with has to move by truck several times, from raw material to delivery to the point of purchase, before you get your hands on it. The entire American economy depends on there being millions of trucks in motion 24 hours a day, and there are roughly 50,000 more every year. Dying under one is largely optional, and the choice is, for the most part, yours.

Folks driving the same road every day DON'T PAY ATTENTION!! Everything is routine, they make the same turns at the same places at the same time every morning, without having to think about any of it, so they have plenty of time to review the paperwork for the 8:00 meeting or finish the sports section on the way. Until something slightly out of the ordinary happens and they kill a pedestrian or drive under a bus that's running a few minutes late.

The fact that I have managed to drive a truck for roughly 15 years without an accident, driving in whatever conditions and at whatever time is necessary, is partially attributable to luck, but is primarily because I am fanatical about keeping track of every vehicle I can see, calculating what the stupidest possible thing they can do is and having a response ready in case they do it. If there is a deer in the treeline alongside the road I want to know it, not because it affects me just standing there but because it may not keep standing there.

By far the most important single thing any driver can do to maximize their chances of completing any trip, whether it's across the Country or two blocks to the store is PAY ATTENTION! Drunk drivers and idiot kids with cars will both have a much harder time killing you if you have already noticed their erratic driving and considered your options for getting out of their way.

No matter how good a driver you are, no matter how good your reflexes, no matter how attentive you may be bad shit can (and will, if you drive enough) happen to or around you. No matter what happens, KEEP DRIVING! As long as you have control of your vehicle, use it. If you lose control, keep trying because you just might get it back. You can quit driving when you're dead, but until them putting your hands over your eyes will NEVER improve the situation, but will frequently make it far worse than it has to be.

There are three kinds of things you can hit with a car; things travelling the same direction as you, things that are not moving relative to you and things that are oncoming. I list them in that order because that is the order of desirability for hitting them. Hitting something (usually a vehicle, obviously) travelling the same direction is rarely fatal (unless the speed differential is extreme, in which case you weren't paying attention), as long as that's all you hit. The most popular way to make this situation far worse is to then hit either a stationary object or an oncoming one by the simple expedient of allowing undirected physics to determine the outcome by not continuing to drive. Even at high speed a simple sideswipe is not a serious matter (if you aren't a piece of sheet metal) but I can't tell you how many times I've seen a few hundred dollars worth of damage turn tragic because one (or both) drivers quit. NEVER QUIT!

Stationary objects are fairly easy to avoid hitting because, well, they are stationary. Some, like bridge abutments, are particularly important to avoid hitting because they won't move even after you hit them. The number one way to avoid hitting this kind of stationary object is NEVER LEAVE THE ROAD. No matter what is happening IN the road you will almost invariably make it worse by leaving any road at high speed. Hitting a deer or a dog or ass-ending a car that pulls out in front of you is almost always less destructive than what happens if you leave the road, thereby entering an area heavily populated with stationary objects we professionals call "not on the road".

The only thing worse than hitting a stationary object is hitting one that is oncoming, thereby adding your speed to it's speed to make the impact truly spectacular. This is to be avoided at all costs. If, for any reason, you find yourself driving in the median of a divided highway STAY THERE. There is nothing in a median that will be as painful to hit as coming out into opposing traffic will be.

There are two primary elements of "control" that you want to maintain, and use, when the shit gets in the fanbelt; steering and speed. GET RID OF SPEED. No matter what kind of bad shit is about to happen to you it will almost invariably be less unpleasant if you are going less fast. When things go wrong shed speed as fast as you can while not losing control. Jumping on the brakes with both feet in most emergencies is a bad idea because, anti-lock brakes or not, it is a very good way to relinquish all directional control. Using your brakes to rapidly bleed speed, on the other hand, is usually the best idea you will have all day when the fan blades get shmeared.

South Georgia, 20 miles or so north of the Florida line on I-95. Raining like two cows pissin' on the same flat rock. The kind of rain you only encounter south of Atlanta and east of Mobile, or in a hurricane or monsoon. The kind of rain where fresh roadkill can be either a bass or a possum, when driving uphill too fast can cause the bends...

Southbound traffic was fairly light, a line of 8 or 9 trucks spaced out so that the spray from one was mostly below windshield level before the next ran into it, staying in the right lane at about 62 or 63 mph, not so much because of the half-inch of water waiting its turn to run off the road as the feeling of disaster hovering in the air, looking for somewhere to land.

Northbound traffic was heavier, mostly tourists from places like Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania where rain has the common decency to form into individual drops before falling, running nose-to-tail at 55 mph, with trucks scattered here and there amongst them and irritated about it. One jackass from New Jersey or Vermont or some other jackass incubator dragging his 30' camper trailer in the left lane, not moving any faster than the slow lane but apparently only licensed to drive in the left; behind him, just clear of the cloud of spray coming off the camper tires, a Peterbilt pulling a flatbed with sideboards, loaded with citrus going somewhere up the seaboard.

The last driver in the southbound line saw him first, and warned the trucks in front. A blue Chevrolet Stepside pickup, lowered to about 3" off the ground, riding on extra-wide slicks all around, neon lights underneath, stereo decals (a Table of Contents for thieves) covering the back windows, every available accessory except a chandolier and a rudder, only one of which would have been useful. Driver reclining against the door like he was on a couch watching TV, the one hand on the wheel in constant motion as he surfed his way south at about 70 mph. He was too cool for words.

The southbound drivers started making their estimates on how far he would make it before he crashed; the most optimistic (and least experienced) thought he might make it to the State line. The cynical bastard leading the pack was just hoping he got past him.

It was bound to happen, so it did, when he was about 50 yards in front of the lead truck of the pack. Either he over-corrected or hit a wave, but either way the front of the truck drifted left and dropped the left-front tire off the pavement, causing a sharp pull to the left, which the driver tried to counteract by jerking the wheel right. It didn't bring the front back on the road but it did kick the back wheels out to the left, sending the pickup across the pond that was pretending to be a median like a flat rock.

The citrus-hauler first saw the pickup when it came out of the camper spray, broadside on, still travelling something over 50, sideways. With nowhere to go and no time to get there he instinctively stabbed at his brakes, locking his trailer tires which started a drift to the right.

On impact, the left side of the Peterbilt bumper hit square on the driver's door of the pickup, at a combined closing speed of probably 100 mph, the driver of the pickup trying desperately to get away from the door he'd been reclining against a couple of seconds earlier. He might as well have flapped his arms and tried to fly. The pickup windows that didn't blow out instantly turned red; the impact slowed the Peterbilt but his trailer continued to sweep right, gathering up a couple of carloads of tourists and blocking the road. The chain-reaction collisions started immediately.

The southbound truck convoy rolled on, agreeing instantly that trying to stop would do far more harm than good. In between warning non-involved northbound trucks of what was happening right in front of them the driver of the front truck, a cold-blooded bastard who had long since quit being impressed by random death, remarked that whoever called 911 needed to have them load the ambulance with extra sponges and buckets, or a ShopVac...

Many folks seem to think that they must drive at least the posted limit, regardless of conditions; these people are frequently known as roadkill. They might get away with it for years, luck apparently having an affinity for the stupid, but depending on luck when travelling at 100 feet-per-second is not my idea of fun.

Perhaps the most deceptively dangerous driving conditions present themselves when a road is freshly wet, especially if the weather has been dry for a while. After a few minutes the accumulated oil and rubber and bug guts will wash off, but for those few minutes the road is as slick as it will ever be without ice. I saw a multi-car accident Tuesday afternoon just outside St. Louis on I-55 North under exactly these conditions. A small (but heavy) rain squall moved across the highway and within a minutes cars were spinning across four lanes. One driver losing visibility and hitting their brakes, causing another driver to swerve on a road slicker than babboon snot...

ANY less-than-optimal condition should trigger an immediate reduction in speed, whether it is rain, fog, snow, heavier traffic or livestock in the road. At 70 mph you are covering almost 100 feet every second; at 50 mph it's closer to 70 feet. Go out into your front yard and mark off these distances so you can visualize them, the difference can be huge. At the same time, the difference can be barely significant. Most trips by car are in the neighborhood of ten miles or less; at 70 mph ten miles takes about 8 1/2 minutes. Cutting your speed to 60 mph for the same trip adds an entire minute-and-a-half, ninety seconds, while increasing significantly your chances of completing it unhindered by death or dismemberment, both of which are notorious for the delays they cause.

I won't even mention the significant improvement in fuel efficiency, and reduction in emissions, because everybody knows Liberals don't care...

The time to chop your speed is NOT when you hit adverse conditions, it's when you see them. Every year we hear about horrendous chain-reaction crashes involving dozens of vehicles piling up in fog banks. In somewhere between a million-and-a-half and two million highway miles I have never seen fog, except where it was artificially produced, that went immediately from clear to thick. If you run into fog that reduces your visibility at all lose some speed; if the fog clears you can resume your speed with the loss of a few seconds. If it thickens and you are going 50 instead of 70 that thirty feet-per-second difference might well be a life-or-death difference.

A note to those who drive SUVs; STOP WATCHING THE COMMERCIALS!! Four wheel drive WILL give you increased traction to get started on snow or ice (or mud or sand), but, at speed, it makes you MORE likely to get in a skid and makes any skid MORE likely to result in a loss of control, and SUVs are invariably more top-heavy than other passenger vehicles and thus more prone to rolling over, always a bad thing. A four wheel drive vehicle CAN proceed on snowy or icy roads roads better than a two-wheel-drive vehicle, but it CANNOT safely proceed faster, because the limiting factor, once in motion, is not driving traction, it's steering traction, and having power to the steer tires does NOT increase steering traction. Front-wheel-drive cars are NOT better on snow because the front tires both steer and drive but because the weight of the engine sits over the drive tires. I see dozens of wrecks every winter that could easily be avoided if folks would understand this one paragraph.

There's an easy way to gauge whether your speed on sub-optimal roads is appropriate, regardless of whether you are dealing with rain or snow or ice; swerve 6 inches either way. If you are afraid to do so because you fear losing control, you are going too fast. A gazillion different things can happen that will force you to change position within your lane, a chunk of truck tire (a "gator"), an ice ball off a truck (I've dropped these things that would weigh 100+ pounds), somebody's ladder. If you can't swerve by 6" you aren't really in control, you're a passenger.

By far the most dangerous road condition in winter is "black ice", which is hard to see because it's transparent and has no snow sticking to it. It doesn't matter what you are driving, black ice is a killer. Watch for it especially under overpasses, where daytime melt runs off the overhead road and refreezes on the road below. If you are driving in winter and notice lots of trucks pulled off onto the shoulder for no apparent reason, it's probably because there's bad black ice ahead.

Note that this doesn't apply necessarily to trucks parked on the shoulder of exit and entrance ramps, an every night thing now. This was extremely rare a few years ago, as it's the worst possible place to park to sleep, but it has been caused by adding trucks to the road far faster than parking places have been added while reducing the allowed hours of operation. Rest areas are full most nights by 8:30 or so, truckstops by 10:00 or 11:00. After that ramps are the only place left.

A final note that I may have covered in a previous Diary but am too lazy to go check; if road conditions are less than ideal forget that you have a cruise control, TURN IT OFF! You need to be actively in control of everything, and having your car trying to accellerate when you are busy avoiding an obstruction or evading a skidding car is not helpful...

Originally posted to The Baculum King on Sat May 24, 2008 at 10:52 AM PDT.

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  •  Hide Rate Me Here for Reposting (349+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mapantsula, Sharoney, saranwarp, zzmarkzz, Pat K California, claude, Canadian Reader, Velocity, Love and Death, aisling, Terri, JillR, northsylvania, ogre, Rayne, RonV, asimbagirl, Pandora, tin woodswoman, cshardie, decafdyke, BigOkie, mattman, PeterHug, wu ming, Heimyankel, mlharges, bornadem, meg, Jay C, AWhitneyBrown, lns1122, eeff, Mnemosyne, TX Unmuzzled, xynz, zenbowl, object16, Sandia Blanca, mataliandy, BarbcusaB, cinnamon68, be seeing you, opinionated, ReneInOregon, anotherCt Dem, sarahnity, Johnny Gentle Famous Crooner, Welshman, RabidNation, highacidity, shock, PBnJ, SCFrog, high5, roses, nabwilson, javelina, jennifree2bme, FriendlyNeighbor, bewert, sidnora, kyoders, wader, webweaver, mayan, slippytoad, entiel, weary hobo, jzso, Nancy in LA, elmo, Librarian, hoolia, exiledfromTN, Guinho, cosette, Kidspeak, 2liberal, BMarshall, hoof32, houyhnhnm, joliberal, Catte Nappe, rockin in the free world, dnn, rockhound, AbsurdEyes, FLDemJax, alizard, MeToo, cevad, Oaktown Girl, Occulus, side pocket, gmhowell, janale, KingPing, Maggie Pax, rapala, joanneleon, mediaprisoner, Bluesee, escapee, Tinfoil Hat, Nadnerb in NC, yuriwho, JanetT in MD, revbludge, subtropolis, chimene, aerojad, El in New York, sc kitty, offred, kamarvt, Simplify, dogemperor, juliesie, SaraBeth, GreyHawk, sueNaustin, Wufacta, lotlizard, Skid, bmaples, FunkyEntropy, The Raven, turnover, Lisa Lockwood, jilikins, Rogneid, LisainNYC, Ekaterin, empathy, SocioSam, ChuckInReno, begone, RJDixon74135, jiordan, Born in NOLA, und83, Showman, buddabelly, gwilson, BachFan, MissInformation, BalanceSeeker, mjfgates, ej25, RustyBrown, 417els, emeraldmaiden, Kimball Cross, Big Eddie Calzone, Ellicatt, demondeac, Yellow Canary, koNko, Hear Our Voices, Tiny Wurlitzer, Junior Bug, sailmaker, goodasgold, birdbrain64, Lashe, 4Freedom, nonnie9999, FireCrow, Caoimhin Laochdha, NearlyNormal, CTLiberal, bleeding heart, carp, smartballs, Andy30tx, BlueMississippi, ilyana, JugOPunch, Unknown Quantity, JeffinQC, rsie, zhimbo, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, Jbeaudill, airmarc, Statusquomustgo, Friend of the court, SeekCa, blueintheface, ms badger, Aaa T Tudeattack, janetsal, NonnyO, orrg1, AmericanRiverCanyon, darrkespur, Buckeye Hamburger, Winston Sm1th, donnamarie, auntialias, peagreen, moodyinsavannah, bluetownship, offgrid, crankyinNYC, VA02 femocrat, terryhallinan, LoosCanN, edsbrooklyn, FishOutofWater, Norm DePlume, The Werewolf Prophet, Nespolo, Cofcos, flumptytail, terabytes, joyful, drchelo, Uncle Cosmo, bnasley, Kyle the Mainer, Seneca Doane, BobTrips, Kentucky Kid, jayden, chicago jeff, TheCorkBoard, SeaTurtle, sldulin, jnhobbs, millwood, Moderation, HaroldPaul, arcana, rf7777, Da Rock, trueblueliberal, Terra Mystica, Red no more, VA Breeze, Man in the Middle, kafkananda, rogerdaddy, AJsMom, gfv6800, TheFatLadySings, I, turtlerace, Brandon Friedman, canoeist, Remembering Jello, Rick Winrod, redding888, Happy Days, Calamity Jean, NMLib, Cassandra Waites, Jake Williams, pickandshovel, ankey, envwq, kyril, Shaviv, Jacques, Abra Crabcakeya, dpryan, valsagem, luckylizard, space miracle, DixieDishrag, red 83, CatfishBlues, marketgeek, palantir, HoosierDeb, revelwoodie, scrubjay, CA coastsider, hardtoport, Mr Tentacle, Calouste, ARS, gdwtch52, wovenbirds, imisa, PapiGonzo, eltee, be the change you seek, Stranded Wind, i know, WiseFerret, notrouble, m4gill4, smash artist, unwilledatom, Hugo101, nwodtuhs, SciVo, cultural worker, Daily Activist, Parallax857, beijingbetty, BDsTrinity, redtex, AvoMonster, dawnt, sarashina nikki, Swatmacher, sanglug, allep10, Deoliver47, Shelley99, kiki236, Dark UltraValia, blueocean, Losty, Pandababy, Houston Gardener, lizabroad, Helen in NC, iampunha, Kelly of PA, AussieJo, LookingUp, Choom Gang Vets for Truth, teemel, Tom in Raleigh, David Kroning, ZAP210, ladygreenslippers, Snof, oceanrain, bglv, rb137, sovery, JenV, Diesel Kitty, ArtSchmart, Initiate Plan B, Prairie Gal, boriquasi, Alctel, fleisch, Obamacrat, kemetcc, Delore, briankelley, Onkel Trygve

    This was Posted yesterday during the Hillarygasm, and several folks asked me to repost it today, so feel free to HR me here for doing so.

    We have no intention of prosecuting Rush Limbaugh because lying through your teeth and being stupid isn't a crime.

    by The Baculum King on Sat May 24, 2008 at 10:54:13 AM PDT

  •  Thank you much (10+ / 0-)

    I hope all Kossacks stay safe this and every weekend.

  •  I save this diary (10+ / 0-)

    every time you post it. I don't think the information it contains can be read or acknowledged too often.

    "...and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." --Barack Obama, January 20, 2009

    by jiordan on Sat May 24, 2008 at 11:00:34 AM PDT

  •  As A Kid Growing Up I Drove In A Reckless (17+ / 0-)

    manner. Guess I thought I would live forever. I now have learned just about everything you mentioned in this post (and some new stuff today). Getting someplace a few minutes faster just isn't worth the risk. The stats that scare the heck out of me are the high percentage of wrecks that happen within two miles of your house.

    Let us not forget New Orleans. Visit Project Katrina.

    by webranding on Sat May 24, 2008 at 11:04:59 AM PDT

  •  Great and timely diary for Memorial Day (9+ / 0-)

    Thanks, perhaps this will help keep some folks from needing to be remembered as opposed still being here.

  •  I loved this source diary the first time (11+ / 0-)

    Everyone should read it carefully if they've not already.

    "A person is as free as they believe themselves to be off." - Fortune cookie

    by The Termite on Sat May 24, 2008 at 11:10:48 AM PDT

  •  I notice you forgot to add the bit about clothing (16+ / 0-)

    choices for people (especially women) in normal-height cars relative to the eyes of people some 8 ft. off the ground, or more, in truck cabs. Not related to survival, of course, but it gave me a chuckle.

    I don't envy you, I've driven a small truck and compared to either my father's light, manual-shift sedans or my auto-shift station wagon, the thing handled (and accelerated) like a brick. Except for wind - any gust of wind that might simply nudge a car felt like it was almost going to tip me over, and as for the 55mph headwind, that was roaring the whole time. Lord alone knows how much Diesel fuel I wasted pushing against the air when the company I rented it from could have saved me (and themselves) money by slightly redesigning the outside of it.

    I can only imagine that larger trucks would be much worse.

    "I decided to force-feed him, but he wouldn't eat... I hated myself for making him eat, but I hated him more for not eating."

    by Shaviv on Sat May 24, 2008 at 11:13:57 AM PDT

  •  Please repost often! (8+ / 0-)

    Perhaps even start your own blog on road safety?

    I've thought about this diary quite a bit in the last year, and thought of you nearly everytime I've thought about how to pass and move around trucks safely.

    Keep up the great work.  You'll never know whose lives you'll save, but take a bow knowing that there probably are some.  maybe mine.

    Like communism and fascism before it, fundamentlism will not rest until it is thoroughly discredited or the entire world is under its yoke.

    by Guinho on Sat May 24, 2008 at 11:15:27 AM PDT

  •  I think turn indicators are good. (16+ / 0-)

    I'm a sorry so few people are able to keep theirs in working order.  Turn indication is fun!

    My favorite is the guy (or gal) who is weaving through traffic not using their turn indicators at all - like if they don't, then the rest of us won't notice how dangerously close they are coming to others when they "sneak" into the slots between other vehicles.

  •  Good Morning , TBK. I drove to hardware store and (5+ / 0-)

    library , got back alive. Keep reposting.

  •  Good diary and GREAT advice (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    javelina, mayan, 4Freedom, blueintheface, SciVo

    But I'm a bit confused as to what happened in the first crash? Did the flatbed squash the minivan?

  •  In Florida (8+ / 0-)

    Trucks have a modern innovation many people are apparently unfamiliar with, lights down each side (and on each corner) that flash (cars have these too but they are rarely used). These are known to professional drivers as "directional signals" or simply "turn signals". If you will watch carefully these give you advance notice of where that vehicle is going to be in the very near future

    these just show the political affiliation of the driver!

    I think everyone should, if they can afford it, go to a safe driving course.

    I support Barack Obama, and I approved this message.

    by mlandman on Sat May 24, 2008 at 11:28:03 AM PDT

  •  sad, scary, and useful (8+ / 0-)

    my best friend's dad drove double UPS rigs between NYC and Ohio for most of his career, and he taught her a lot of the stuff you include here, and i picked it up from her.

    i'd say reposting is fine--given the big "driving" holiday weekend. maybe you just saved a life?

    éí 'aaníígÓÓ 'áhoot'é

    by Librarian on Sat May 24, 2008 at 11:52:27 AM PDT

    •  I think the most important lesson herein... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      javelina, rockhound

      is to have the "field" of the road in eye and mind's eye...know where every vehicle is and anticipate their stoooopidity.

      "We're all working for the Pharaoh" - Richard Thompson

      by mayan on Sat May 24, 2008 at 01:16:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  certainly. (0+ / 0-)

        not just their possible stupidity, but also simple naive or last-minute mistakes they could make.

        i've often thought of interstate driving as a video game, where the goal is to never mess with the flow of the traffic...always be thinking about what you can do, to keep everything going as smoothly as possible!

        éí 'aaníígÓÓ 'áhoot'é

        by Librarian on Sun May 25, 2008 at 01:14:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A really good and timeless diary... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mayan, 4Freedom, blueintheface, SciVo

    until people are being teleported to their destination, this diary should be reposted from time to time to remind people of the dangers of inattentive highway driving.

    "We are a Plutocracy, we ought to face it. We need, desperately, to find new ways to hear independent voices & points of view" Ramsey Clark US AG

    by Mr SeeMore on Sat May 24, 2008 at 11:53:43 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for this. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    emeraldmaiden, blueintheface, Bronx59

    Always good to remember. It seems like people are more reckless now on the roads in the US than I remember them being 10 years ago.

    I am always grateful that my driver's ed teacher was paranoid, and took safety really seriously. I always signal. I always check my blind spot even when there is nothing there. And I keep a respectful distance from trucks. Even 20 years later.

    You will save lives with this. Thank you, thank you.

    The sleep of reason brings forth monsters.

    by beijingbetty on Sat May 24, 2008 at 12:03:54 PM PDT

  •  really useful information (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueintheface, berkeleybarb

    Some I already know, some I'd forgotten, and some was new.  Thanks for taking the time and reminding us all. You can never hear stuff like this enough.

  •  My grandfather was a long-haul trucker (5+ / 0-)

    He would tell me stories like these all the time. He was trying to teach me how to drive safely. One of his key points is the same as given in the diary: Only safe place is in front or behind the truck. Alongside is not where you want to be.

    Thanks as always, Baculum King. These are like... public service announcements.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Sat May 24, 2008 at 12:08:27 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for this BK (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You should post this at least every few months.

    Tipped, rec'ed, and sent to friends

    "If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy." -teacherken

    by offgrid on Sat May 24, 2008 at 12:18:55 PM PDT

  •  not to take away from your important diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jbeaudill, blueintheface

    The two teenage boys on the overpass were bored.

    But this never would have happened if they hadn't dropped the rock. Don't we know enough by now to tell our children this behavior on the overpass is dangerous and illegal? Just as if they had been drinking?

    Wonder what those two are up to today?

    If we cannot elect this man, we don't deserve him.

    by lisastar on Sat May 24, 2008 at 12:19:11 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for metioning the morons in SUVs (9+ / 0-)

    A note to those who drive SUVs; STOP WATCHING THE COMMERCIALS!! Four wheel drive WILL give you increased traction to get started on snow or ice (or mud or sand), but, at speed, it makes you MORE likely to get in a skid and makes any skid MORE likely to result in a loss of control, and SUVs are invariably more top-heavy than other passenger vehicles and thus more prone to rolling over, always a bad thing. A four wheel drive vehicle CAN proceed on snowy or icy roads roads better than a two-wheel-drive vehicle, but it CANNOT safely proceed faster, because the limiting factor, once in motion, is not driving traction, it's steering traction, and having power to the steer tires does NOT increase steering traction. Front-wheel-drive cars are NOT better on snow because the front tires both steer and drive but because the weight of the engine sits over the drive tires. I see dozens of wrecks every winter that could easily be avoided if folks would understand this one paragraph.

    When I lived on Lake Tahoe, some friends and I would gather after every new snow, in a bar at the bottom of a hill. It was great fun watching idiots who spent more on their 4WDs than we made in two years suddenly learning that just because 4WD helps you accelerate, braking ability was unchanged. There would be one wreck with every storm. Eventually, the town just made a "No Parking" zone at the bottom of the hill. Too many "innocent parked cars" (not any locals, we knew better) getting smooshed.

    Money is wasted on all the wrong people...

    "The road to gas chambers starts when good people find excuses to justify torture and murder. Feinstein and Schumer are enablers."- Larry Johnson -8.25, -6.21

    by Jacques on Sat May 24, 2008 at 12:19:37 PM PDT

    •  We have those eejits in Nashville too. (0+ / 0-)

      SUV/4WD drivers seem to think that those pesky natural laws don't apply to them.


    •  First deadly crash we saw (0+ / 0-)

      Was in Colorado, going up to the Eisenhower tunnel. They had stopped cars at the bottom of the mountain and turned back any that were not equipped with either studded snows or chains, because of extremely slippery conditions.

      As we neared the top of the mountain, crawling along, just a few cars down from the tunnel entrance, this SUV came up and passed us in the breakdown lane. It got ahead of us by a couple of cars, then fell off the side.

      It was there, then it wasn't.

      It just disappeared. Gone.

      Some of the folks ahead stopped and got out of their cars to see if they could help. One of them, after peering over the edge, crouched down in a ball with his hands on his head, in clear anguish. The mountain at that point was a sheer drop, hundreds of feet. There couldn't have been anything left of the SUV.

      We didn't get out.

      The entire rest of the drive was white-knuckle scary, doing threshold breaking down the other side, in the dark, on ice, in an unfamiliar rental car on a very steep grade after having witnessed what those conditions can mean if you screw up.

      Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

      by mataliandy on Sat May 24, 2008 at 09:18:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the repost (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, rockhound, berkeleybarb

    I remember reading most of this material before, and agree that most drivers out there need to pay better attention.

    We drove from Tucson to Wilmington, DE (and back) this winter; there were moments on the road that were frightening. Our small car was towing a trailer, too, and we had a headwind the whole way home.

    In Mississippi and Louisiana, we drove through some lovely, heavy morning fog. Apparently, reduction in speed in foggy conditions is an anomaly there ... we were passed quite a bit in that stretch of road.

    In Georgia, we witnessed a truck losing a wheel. It was headed for us, but fortunately bogged down in the median before it could reach our lane. The trucker pulled safely off the road, thank goodness, and no one got hurt.

    We were very impressed by most of the truck drivers we saw on our trip. There were one or two who were driving their trucks unsafely, but the rest were excellent.

    -8.00, -7.08

    It isn't easy being green.

    by emeraldmaiden on Sat May 24, 2008 at 12:20:04 PM PDT

  •  So glad you re-posted this, BK (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zenbowl, emeraldmaiden

    It's a stunning and important diary, and hopefully will save some lives. Thanks so much for caring.

    "That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics"...Barack Obama, 2002

    by Ekaterin on Sat May 24, 2008 at 12:23:18 PM PDT

  •  Death is the Least of My Worries (5+ / 0-)

    I don't profess to know the statistics, but death happens in much fewer cases than being physically fucked for life.  I grew up when the drinking age was 18 and wonder how so many of us survived to live another day (many didn't).  I can't stress it enough to my son how huge of a difference just wearing a seatbelt can make between a sound bruising and a serious limp or wheelchair for life.

    •  I Always Figured the Longest Hour of Existence (9+ / 0-)

      Is the hour spent waiting for somebody to cut you out of a pile of scrap metal you've bonded with.

      We have no intention of prosecuting Rush Limbaugh because lying through your teeth and being stupid isn't a crime.

      by The Baculum King on Sat May 24, 2008 at 12:29:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Don't always wear my seat belt (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but I had it on four weeks ago when I got creamed by the drunk driver going the wrong way on the one way street.

      I've been much better about it ever since . . .

      •  Started wearing a seatbelt (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Audio Guy

        The day both my brother and I, within seconds had exactly the same experience in separate cars on the same stretch of road:

        There was a car, sitting, by itself smack in the middle of Rte 128 in Burlington, MA, nothing around it but broken glass, emergency vehicles gone, but the tow truck hadn't arrived, yet.

        As I inched past with the rest of the traffic, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the front bumper was askew. (I'm not a rubber-necker, I don't want to create new accidents by taking my attention off the road).

        Anyway, some milliseconds later, my brain realized that the "bumper" was wearing a shoe.  It was someone's leg. It appeared that someone was thrown from his car (definitely a him) and was subsequently crushed between cars in the accident.

        My brother, who was 2 cars back behind me had exactly the same realizations in the same order.

        I decided at that moment, that if anyone ever had to scrape me out of a car, all the parts were coming out together.

        I've worn my seatbelt ever since. Ditto for my brother.

        Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

        by mataliandy on Sat May 24, 2008 at 09:29:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I don't drive at all (11+ / 0-)

    never learned how, and, being blind in one eye, and with lots of visual perceptual difficulties, that's a good thing.

    Learning to drive safely is obviously important.

    Getting people to drive less, a lot less, is also important, and that's one good thing about the fuel crisis --- driving will decline.

    For trucking --- well, we won't ever eliminate it, but as the price of gas goes up, more and more freight will be by rail rather than truck.  And if people start buying more local products, that will also lessen the number of trucks needed.

    Cars and trucks are dangerous in so many ways.

    •  Oh, and in case my remarks are misinterpreted (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      javelina, edsbrooklyn, drchelo

      I also gave you a recommend

    •  unfortunately (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elmo, plf515, goshzilla

      we lack railways.  for instance, no rail lines connect Austin to Houston--something that has always puzzled me.

    •  thanks for this comment (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy, rockhound, plf515

      I would like to see a lot more freight sent via rail and I wish this country hadn't allowed its rail infrastructure to deteriorate to the extent that it has. I agree that trucking is still important, but I think it would be beneficial in so many ways to re-examine our rail options.

      I applaud the diary author for all of the tips. I am what I would consider a careful, if not paranoid, driver and I frequently see my blood pressure hit the roof when oblivious/selfish car drivers exhibit stupid behaviors. I can say, however, that truck drivers have caused me no less grief. I make a 30 minute commute down I40 most days and there have been numerous times when semis have all but run me off the road. And I'm not talking about my not noticing or ignoring their intentions - I'm talking about them putting on their blinkers half a second before they start pulling into the lane that I am currently occupying. Hell, it's happened twice in the last month and my heart was in my mouth, my hand on the horn, and my foot on the break both times. The bottom line is that everyone needs to learn the rules of the road and, if you don't think you can make a smart move to get over to your exit, hitting the next one and turning around isn't the worst option in the world.

      North Carolina: overwhelmingly in favor of irrelevancy

      by Tom in Raleigh on Sat May 24, 2008 at 01:36:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Rail (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        plf515, Bronx59, goshzilla

        Rail is currently running nearly at capacity. Truckers are leaving or being forced out of the business, particularly with long haul routes.

        It will be impossible to limit all truck traffic. The funny (quirky, not 'haha') thing is the remaining truck traffic will be from warehouse or distribution center to stores. IOW, no matter what happens, there will be local truck traffic.

        Let's also not forget that the justification for the interstate highway system is twofold: first for transport of military. Second is to facilitate interstate commerce. Nowhere in there do I see your daily commute mentioned. Not trying to incite or inflame.

        If your foot was on the brake when these trucks cut you off, were you speeding? Really? Look a little further ahead. Drive like you are playing a game of chess with a dozen players. Not just what you and he are doing, but what the two of you, the next car up, the truck in the other lane, and how they interact.

        •  About 1% or so of the trucks I meet (4+ / 0-)

          are apparently being driven by idiots.

          Case in point--last February, I was driving south on I-75 (I live in Toledo) in a moderately hard rain (temperature was about 30 - 33, rain was freezing as it hit the ground), in the right lane, when I was passed by a gasoline tanker that was going well over 70 in the left lane.  I have no idea what happened to him, except that he didn't come to grief in the distance before I left the highway.  But that is a memory that will probably stick with me for a few years to come.

          •  Hazmat hauler? (0+ / 0-)

            I'd report him. No call for that.

            Of course, he might have been empty, but even gas fumes can be dangerous.

            •  Not hazmat AFAIK (0+ / 0-)

              just gasoline.  But given how fast he was going, and the conditions, he would have been dangerous with an empty flatbed trailer.

              Blowing up after he plowed into someone would have been icing on the cake.

              •  Gas is hazmat (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Gasoline needs to be placarded, therefore, it is hazmat. Maybe not a lay person's expectation though.

                •  Point taken... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  and he was placarded as I recall, that's how I knew it was a gasoline tanker.

                  The central hazard was the driving, not the cargo--given the kinetic energy inherent to the truck itself, I think that any contribution from the cargo would have been a bit gratuitous.

                  I guess my point is, in any group of people there are going to be some fraction (hopefully small) who are idiots.  And the regulatory framework that covers them (in combination with the enforcement system) needs to see control of this fact as of paramount importance.  Not "protecting us against terrorists" or some other issue of miniscule practical and immediate impact.  Just get the idiots out of the equation and the rest of us will (mostly) do just fine.

                  •  Many tankers have placards (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    You'd have to see what the placard said, what numbers were on it and such. There are several things that could be hazmat and carried in a tanker. But most likely, it was gasoline.

                    I used to teach driver's ed. One day we were driving along and pulled up behind a tractor trailer at a traffic light. The student had a habit of not leaving enough room at lights. I noticed the placard on the truck in front of us, and reminded her about her stopping distance. I said "you wouldn't want to get too close to a vehicle with that logo on it would you?" As she scanned the truck, she noticed the radioactive logo on the placard, and finally jammed on the brakes. I told her "now what if someone forgot to put that sign on the truck? Treat all vehicles like that you just did that truck, and you'll be safer." And she finally increased the amount of space she left at stops.

              •  Here's a list (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                PeterHug, Losty

                Here's a list of hazardous materials. I think sodium chloride (table salt) is on there. There's a bit more to it than that, but it'll get ya started.

                •  In a nutshell, this list encapsulates why (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mataliandy, gmhowell

                  I'm a liberal (or anyway a Progressive).

                  Someone (a group of someones) went to a great deal of trouble and effort to create a system where, if you're moving a chemical or any hazardous substance, you can refer to this list and be able to quickly understand how it should be safely handled.  And, by putting a simple sign on your truck, you can let everyone who needs to know, precisely how your cargo can be handled.

                  The only people who want to ditch this sort of regulatory framework are (i) clueless gits who have no clue how modern civilization works, and (ii) shysters who are trying to pull a fast one and who are very uncomfortable with being forced to own up to what they're doing.

                  •  You go a little far on the value of the list (0+ / 0-)

                    You go a little far on the value of the list. The one I linked to just tells you what chemical in what amounts needs a placard. How to safely handle it is another matter entirely.

                    What the placard will tell you, in very general terms, is what the nature of the hazmat is. Poison gas, explosive, etc.

                    But you are right about people who want to get rid of this. They will tell you that 'the market will correct itself', yet they argue against trial lawyers, one of the few feedback loops available to the average person.

        •  that's all good and well (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mataliandy, gmhowell, plf515

          and, if you read my first paragraph, I said that trucking is important - I'm not disparaging its necessity, merely pointing out that I would like to see more investment in the rail system (both in freight and commuter lines) and that truckers also make mistakes sometimes. Do I see more automobiles acting crazy on my drive? Certainly, but the ratio of car to semi is also a lot higher so that's going to be the case no matter what.

          As for assuming that I was speeding when my car was nearly smushed by a truck, I respectfully disagree. I rarely speed due to the fact that my Prius' display tells me when I am getting optimal gas mileage (something I tend to obsess about) and that generally falls right around 65. So, if anything, I was going pretty close to the speed limit. The last time it happened, I was watching the truck and, since it wasn't that long before that another trucker had nearly caused me to have a heart attack, I was anticipating what this particular guy would do. I usually drive in the slow the lane since most folks consider going the actual speed limit to be pretty lame and I was almost even with the truck's rear tires when he started merging into my lane. So, yeah, I definitely was quick to hit the brakes - it was that surely death. The fact is, if he can't figure out exactly where I am in relation to his rear end, then he needs to put on his blinkers and let me fall back and blink my headlights at him or otherwise signal that it's all clear. He didn't do that - he put on his blinker and almost immediately started to merge. It's easy to say that I need to be more careful, but there's little to prepare you for someone 20 times bigger than you bearing down on your left side with little to no warning.

          And, about your assertion that the interstate was implemented for military transport and interstate commerce, what exactly is your point? The Internet was originally made for military and academic reasons, I don't see blog posting mentioned and yet here we are. I'm pretty sure I40 hasn't expanded to 5 lanes on either side because of the heavy military and commerce traffic. The reason something was created half a century ago and the reason it exists today can often be very different. Not trying to incite or inflame.

          Look, I understand the value of trucking and it's pretty damn important for everything we do on a daily basis. If we went without it, our lives would change big time. But it has been found that, for the majority of goods (or people for that matter), shipping via train is more energy efficient than shipping by truck and I think that this country could do a better job of combining the two methods of transport to reduce costs (which are only going up) and, hopefully, reduce the number of stories like the one that begins this diary. Of course, we would need to heavily invest in the rail system, but, if Europe can do it, I don't know why we can't.

          North Carolina: overwhelmingly in favor of irrelevancy

          by Tom in Raleigh on Sat May 24, 2008 at 05:00:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's happened multiple times? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mataliandy, Losty

            I suggest you find a new route to work. Or see what else is going on if this has happened multiple times.

            I mentioned the intention of the interstate system mostly as a digression. But also to point out that the system is designed to move freight, not commuters.

            As for the bigger question, why no more trains? Money and NIMBY problems. For a long time, truck freight was as cheap or cheaper than rail freight, and offered a point to point solution that rail didn't offer. Faced with shrinking margins, some rail lines let their 'leases' on rail right of ways lapse. Even in those areas where they still have the land, local, state, and federal zoning officials don't want to allow the building for various reasons.

            I think the reason we don't build more rail is that freight is still unbelievably cheap. I just carried some steel cans about 600 miles. You mean to tell me there wasn't a can supplier closer to Elk Rapids, MI than Reading, PA?

            So then the question is, why is truck freight still so cheap? Simple: real wages have been stagnant for decades. It started around the time of deregulation under (you know what's coming next) Reagan.

            There's also huge turnover in the industry. 100%+ at many firms. I chose the company I'm at because they have 'only' a 25% turnover or thereabouts. (More to it, but that's a sign of a decent company in this industry). Even in a good company with good pay (I have both) it's a hard lifestyle. It would actually suit me very well, but there's one niggling problem that may lead me to become one of the 25% (and it's not bad automobile drivers :)

  •  I added the 'teaching' tag (6+ / 0-)

    so that this will be in next week's Daily Kos University.... this week's diary is open now (link in sig) but adding this diary to it now would probably do little good.... DKU scrolled off the list long ago.

  •  When I got my license in 1980... (3+ / 0-) Ohio, as part of Driver's Ed, we were forced to watch a "Clockwork Orange" style "Death Film" compiled by the Highway Patrol over the years. No punches were pulled - it would probably get an NC17 rating today. But all the wise acres who cracked up in class up to that point were quiet and attentive after that.

    I wish everybody had to sit through that movie or the modern equivalent to get a license renewed.

    Call me any ugly name you choose --
    The steel of freedom does not stain.
    -- Langston Hughes

    by TheCrank on Sat May 24, 2008 at 12:36:44 PM PDT

    •  Could it Have Been ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stranded Wind

      ... a film called ... <scratches head> ... (my driving class was in 1968) ... AHA! "DEATH on the HIGHWAY" ?? Sure scared me straight.

      Of course, with a father who was an automotive engineer, I had to listen to much of this all over from him later. "Use cruise control ONLY when conditions are GOOD." "Drive the speed limit ONLY when conditions are GOOD and that speed is appropriate!" "FER GOD'S SAKE, will yu' let up on the danged clutch already?????"


  •  So sorry (7+ / 0-)

    I can't drive right now
    cause I'm talking on the phone ...

    "The fussy armchair jackboots who live here 24/7, tossing around their cool "donut" slang are the rather pathetic souls at the root of the problem."

    by indycam on Sat May 24, 2008 at 12:38:51 PM PDT

    •  It Really is Amazing How Stupidity Conflates (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      meg, elmo, mediaprisoner, FunkyEntropy

      To a phone to the ear. I think it's a function of the brain only being able to concentrate on one thing at a time, and when 16-year-old girls are on the phone...

      We have no intention of prosecuting Rush Limbaugh because lying through your teeth and being stupid isn't a crime.

      by The Baculum King on Sat May 24, 2008 at 12:42:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  To be honest, its not just phones. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        asimbagirl, PeterHug, sockpuppet, elmo

        I find any type of conversation in a car to be too distracting.  I can concentrate on understanding what you said, or I can concentrate on driving, but not both.

        Don't get me started on drivers who also feel the need to look at the people they're talking to.

        Actually, this reminds me of a little sign they have on buses in Italy telling you not to talk to the driver.  Because in Italy, you see, they talk with their hands.

        The true measure of a man's character lies not in how he treats his friends, but in how he treats his enemies.

        by FunkyEntropy on Sat May 24, 2008 at 02:39:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  ding ding ding ding DING!!!!!!!!!!!!! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Don't get me started on drivers who also feel the need to look at the people they're talking to.

          OMG. That drives me effing insane. I have actually refused to have a conversation with a driver b/c she wouldn't keep her eyes on the road!

          "Poverty or wealth can make all the differences in securing the substance or only the shadow of constitutional protections." -Wiley Rutledge

          by asimbagirl on Sat May 24, 2008 at 07:19:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this (4+ / 0-)

    I had not seen it before and it definitely gave me pause.  Sort of like when I had to go to online traffic school a couple of years ago... it actually made me a better driver.

    I respect your years of responsible driving, but do want to point out that sometimes even when one gives truckers all the latitude in the world, they can be irresponsible a**holes.  I drove from LA to Sedona a few months ago and was following my brother, when a tractor-trailer pulled out from a dead stop on the shoulder of the I-10 into the right-hand lane in which bro was driving, right in front of him with no signal, no warning, nothing.  My brother avoided tangling with him with some smart braking and maneuvering, but it was a heart-stopping moment and there was no apparent good reason for the trucker's move.  So not all mishaps are the product of passenger-vehicle errors.

    That said, thanks for the refresher course.  :)

    It's a dangerous thing, being born. ~The Kite Runner

    by Nancy in LA on Sat May 24, 2008 at 12:42:26 PM PDT

  •  A motorcyclist's perspective (11+ / 0-)

    I'd just like to add an enormous AMEN to Baculum King's diary here.

    Last year I did a 6,000 mile loop down the west coast to the border, over to Texas, then back up through California on a solo motorcycle trip (had to do something in New Mexico and no one wanted to go that far).

    Consistently, all through the trip, I found truckers to be profoundly on top of the game, and in many subtle ways demonstrated that they recognized the unique capabilities and limitations of my mode of transport, and made accomodations for it.

    It's somehow harder to get a sense of that in a car.

    It's like there was an odd mutual respect between those at opposite ends of the spectrum, perhaps because we both encounter the same kinds of life-threatening obliviousness. There are lots of good car drivers too, but it just takes a few idiots to wreck a good day.

    I've always said if I were President my first act would be to give a speech about better driving, but I could probably just read this post off the teleprompter. Tipped and rec'd, thanks.

    I'd rather trust a man who doesn't shout what he's found. - P. Gabriel

    by be seeing you on Sat May 24, 2008 at 12:44:13 PM PDT

    •  Just want to also mention, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      be seeing you, sockpuppet

      All of the motorcyclists I know are cool drivers who, if they've ever gotten into accidents, were mostly sideswiped by car drivers who never saw them, rather than having hit something with their bikes.

      However, I do recall a traffic violation that led to a fatal accident, in which a motorcyclist ran a red light at top speed the same time that a kid in a sports car, approaching a green light, held a steady 45mph (speed limit + 5). The kid must have blinked, and the collision of part of his bike with the front end of the sports car flipped him up and over the hood. The biker was launched into a tree, the bike slammed through the windshield and smacked into the driver's right arm and shoulder, and the driver was too stunned by the impact to do anything except pass out. He was stopped when his car mangled a park bench on which two people were sitting.

      The police conclusion was that it was the fault of the motorcyclist for running the light and the fault of the kid in the car for hitting him. The bench-sitters were posthumously cleared of all responsibility. I believe the biker died, and the kid who was driving the car showed up in school with the right side of his upper body in a cast, and with his eyes staring into space; he was either PTSD'd, or seriously concussed, or both.

      I guess the lesson involved is, don't be a fucking moron and run red lights, and also, don't assume nobody's going to run red lights, so slow down a bit at a green. Which is what I do, after I bent another guy's Ford Focus like a horseshoe around the front end of a Honda Civic at 30mph (fortunately, only property was destroyed).

      "I decided to force-feed him, but he wouldn't eat... I hated myself for making him eat, but I hated him more for not eating."

      by Shaviv on Sat May 24, 2008 at 01:39:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, definitely buffoons in all modalities (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        If anything, rocketeers on bikes with no sense piss off the rest of us more than they do anyone in cars since they make us look bad.

        It was interesting doing the interstates down from Washington to San Diego and across to El Paso. Every state had its own driving personality. California drivers were the best. They'd go out of their way to let you pass even without riding up on their tail. Here in Washington, people get very school-marmish about it all. Nothing against school marms...

        But the truck drivers were good just about everywhere.

        So.. to all you truck drivers and good drivers, just  know that your skill is noticed and appreciated by us exposed types.

        I'd rather trust a man who doesn't shout what he's found. - P. Gabriel

        by be seeing you on Sat May 24, 2008 at 02:03:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Many of us drive both (3+ / 0-)

      I can't remember the statistics verbatim, but a larger percentage of truckers own bikes compared to the rest of the population.

      The one thing I find in common is that neither truck nor motorcycle operators take the road for granted. People in cages (cars to the unwashed) are in their little hermetically sealed bubble, immune to the world.

      And of course, there is "Big Bad SUV Disease" thinking.

      •  Bingo (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The one thing I find in common is that neither truck nor motorcycle operators take the road for granted.

        Said it better than I could. And again, not knocking car drivers - lots of them are great - it's just easier to be lulled into a false sense of invincibility and obliviousness in a mobile living room.

        I'd rather trust a man who doesn't shout what he's found. - P. Gabriel

        by be seeing you on Sat May 24, 2008 at 02:06:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sheer numbers (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          be seeing you, goshzilla

          There are a huge number of cars on the road. Even if only 1% of them are absolute and complete morons behind the wheel (and that's generous) that still leads to a huge number of idiots out there.

          •  When I started riding 30 years ago (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rockhound, gmhowell, Stranded Wind

            I started out thinking I was being cautious by assuming drivers didn't see me. Seemed fair, since a motorcycle is smaller and flits around a bit more. Avoid the blind spots, fingers on the brake through intersections, etc.

            That didn't last long. After a few close calls I took the view that they saw me, but were trying to kill me. 80,000 bike miles later (I mostly drive a car) and still kicking. It's that constant sense of being a deer in hunting season that bumps up the situational awareness. Sounds like a drag, but there's a certain exhilaration in feeling like you're obligated to maintain awareness continuously from moment to moment. Not that I wouldn't mind the alternative.

            Creative paranoia is handy in all sorts of situations. It's part of what makes it easy to give a wave to the considerate drivers. And writers.

            I'd rather trust a man who doesn't shout what he's found. - P. Gabriel

            by be seeing you on Sat May 24, 2008 at 04:18:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I did copy work (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Audio Guy, goshzilla

    taking photos of photos in a fair size photo lab ,
    I saw lots of photos , close ups of dead people from all sorts of deaths , one lawyer would want copies of the other lawyers photos etc etc etc .
    One that stands out was a guy who flipped his car , he got flung out of the car into a lava field , the lava ripped him open and his guts were 15ish feet behind him .

    "The fussy armchair jackboots who live here 24/7, tossing around their cool "donut" slang are the rather pathetic souls at the root of the problem."

    by indycam on Sat May 24, 2008 at 12:52:36 PM PDT

  •  To my precious Elisabeth.. (6+ / 0-)

    With love from Mom and a gracious, kind stranger.

    (The gift tag on this wonderful diary that I am sending to my daughter, the owner of a new car. Thank you, TBK.)

  •  Excellent diary, BK (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    edsbrooklyn, berkeleybarb

    This sort of thing, IMHO, can't be re-posted often enough! Thanks.

    BTW, were the teenage idiots who caused that dreadful accident ever caught/charged/punished?

  •  My husband will get a kick out of this diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    edsbrooklyn, Bronx59

    He likes to remind me that he is a pro-fessional driver (or at least he was for over 10 years). His close calls have all been the result of someone else's stupidity, while mine were almost all self-inflicted.

    I could give you a whole diary about why young people shouldn't be playing with their freaking radios while they are driving.

    "I will fight for my country, but I will not lie for her. " -- Zora Neale Hurston

    by blueintheface on Sat May 24, 2008 at 01:00:47 PM PDT

  •  I just returned (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    edsbrooklyn, berkeleybarb

    from a round trip drive from Georgia to Pennsylvania and back...
    in that time I saw at least 8 wrecks along the road, two of them serious enough to require ambulances.
    I also saw driving that was absolutely reckless and unnecessary.  Most of the drivers trying to gain a bit of road wound up at the same point I did at the same time further on up the highway.  Turn signals are all but a thing of the past, but lane changes are frequent.
    Thanks for an excellent post.

    No one man can terrorize a whole nation unless we are all his accomplices...Edward R. Murrow

    by maxcat06 on Sat May 24, 2008 at 01:01:29 PM PDT

  •  I remember midsummer thunderstorms in Iowa (5+ / 0-)

    and being on Interstate 80, or 35, or Highway 169, or 20.  An enormous wind would come up, and then a wall of water would come down.  I always pulled over, since it's impossible for me to drive with the equivalent of a firehose being shot at the windshield.

    I could never figure out how all those other people on the highway managed to continue to drive at 55 or 60 mph -- or why.

    Thank you for this.  You may have saved some lives today.

    •  storms (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      javelina, edsbrooklyn

      I'm a relatively new driver (~4 years), and was driving a couple hours down a 65mph limit highway in a very heavy storm the other day; it was by far the riskiest conditions I've driven in. Visibility 50-200 feet, the kind where you actually want to be near other cars to get a better idea of where the lane markings are because you can barely see them, even though it's mid-day (that's a bad sign). The speed of traffic in both lanes was over 60, was hesitant to pull over because the shoulders were small.

      All I could do was be hyper-alert, check my mirrors every few seconds, pump the brakes when necessary (I wouldn't trust ABS with this much water on the road). I made it through the heavy stuff in about a half hour. Not my favorite kind of driving, that's for sure.

  •  Thank you for this diary, (4+ / 0-)

    My brother drives a rig fairly long distances (like from Pennsylvania to Maine) and it's important for people to realize what a truck driver has to deal with. I rode with him a couple of times and all I can say is that driving a rig in areas with a lot of traffic would just be too much for me to handle. You have a job that I could never do.

    Obama/Richardson's Beard '08!

    by Kyle the Mainer on Sat May 24, 2008 at 01:05:07 PM PDT

  •  Excellent diary (5+ / 0-)

    Just one comment about

    >>>>>Note that this doesn't apply necessarily to trucks parked on the shoulder of exit and entrance ramps, an every night thing now.<<<<<</p>

    Always pick the entrance ramp if you have to pull over or park.  Vehicles entering the interstate are going slower than those exiting the highway.

    Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and co-operation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace. D. Eisenhower

    by Swatmacher on Sat May 24, 2008 at 01:05:12 PM PDT

  •  Best diary I've ever read! (n/t) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mediaprisoner, berkeleybarb
  •  I remember you posting this before (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mediaprisoner, berkeleybarb

    ...thanks for doing it again.  Great read.

    secondpagemedia: Could you find it in your heart to blogroll me? I'd do the same for you.

    by aerojad on Sat May 24, 2008 at 01:08:02 PM PDT

  •  This is oh so timely, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    as the daugher of a trucker your words are oh so true. Thanks for reposting this as it never gets old.

  •  I used to work near a truck driving school (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Living in Gin

    and that was the only time I was ever worried about trucks.  One of them drove an unloaded semi over our landscaping.    Wonder if he passed...

    The vehicles I worry about the most are modified imported compact cars. Seriously, it's like a drag racing movie out there sometimes.  When somebody pays WAY too much money to fix up a Corolla, watch the hell out.

  •  This post is important! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rockhound, Bronx59

    Driving is using deadly force. Please do so responsibly.

    A note to those who drive SUVs; STOP WATCHING THE COMMERCIALS!! Four wheel drive WILL give you increased traction to get started on snow or ice (or mud or sand), but, at speed, it makes you MORE likely to get in a skid and makes any skid MORE likely to result in a loss of control, and SUVs are invariably more top-heavy than other passenger vehicles and thus more prone to rolling over, always a bad thing. A four wheel drive vehicle CAN proceed on snowy or icy roads roads better than a two-wheel-drive vehicle, but it CANNOT safely proceed faster, because the limiting factor, once in motion, is not driving traction, it's steering traction, and having power to the steer tires does NOT increase steering traction.

    Those drivers scare me too. I have a standard reply when they tell me, "I got 4 wheel drive, no problem." I reply, "I got 4 wheel brakes too."


    by notrouble on Sat May 24, 2008 at 01:16:28 PM PDT

  •  thanks for this diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    just in time for memorial day weekend and summer driving season.  this winter, we've had more ice than usual, and i've marveled at how many of the drivers from the midwest (gb packers stickers give em away) drive as if slushy roads are dry roads.  being confident doesn't make the road dry.

  •  When will truckers drive at the speed limit? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nadnerb in NC

    When truckers drive the speed limit, I'll start respecting them.  I don't see many driving at the 60 limit here in Washington on interstates posted at 70 for vehicles under 10k#.  The cost of fuel might slow them down, now.

    I agree, you should be allowed to punt the driver that swerves in front of you into the next county, but that would be some young fool with his 17 year old girlfriend and their baby...or some old fool and his blue haired wife.

    Yes, just about an equal number of 4wd vehicles off the road on snowy days as 2wd ones, except way too many road closed due to semis jackknifing.

    •  Many now driving UNDER the limit (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      We drove from CT to central Indiana last month. Most of the trucks had their cruise control set about 62, to save gas. A year or two ago they would have been at 70.

    •  WA is peculiar (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rockhound, gdwtch52

      most of the WA traffic is local companies. It's a peculiar area. Your observations are anecdotal at best. Judging by driving the rest of the US, I'd say we are far more likely to do the limit than cars. The large firms are usually governed to 65 or less. For most of the country, we are incapable of exceeding the speed limit (except downhill or with a good tailwind:)

      The cost of fuel is already slowing trucks down. Some of the majors are talking about cutting speeds to 62. I've read dozens of reports from owner ops who are down to 58-60.

  •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

    I was in a bad car accident in 1996, and I hope that is it.

    So, thanks.  I already stopped using a cell while driving.  My husband and I promised each other to NOT ever use the cell while driving.  So, I am sticking to that.

    You said that whenever the road conditions are adverse at all (bad weather etc), to turn the cruise off. So, I will start doing that.

    I am glad to know that it is a bad idea to drive alongside a truck. I haven't done that in a while, but I will make sure to not do it again. A couple months ago, I was driving alongside a truck on the right side (stupid, I know that now) and he couldn't see me and he forced me off the road.  Very lucky for me, there was an entrance way to a new expressway (or, rather, the expressway was splitting or something, you could get onto the other freeway), so I decided to go that way.  But I won't drive alongside them.

    I'll bookmark this diary and read it over again.


    •  my close call: tandem truck (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      I was merging onto a freeway with a truck in the right lane going about my speed.  I timed my entrance for the end of the on-ramp, at which point the truck should have just passed me.  He gave me a look that caught my attention, though.  And as he began to pass, I saw he was actually a tandem.  No choice but to hit the breaks at the end of the on-ramp.  I really wish he'd found a way to get to the left lane and leave me room.  But I suppose with a tandem that's a half-mile operation or something.  I really don't like tandems.
  •  Thanks for the great advice! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rockhound, FunkyEntropy

    I'm aware of nearly all of it and always try my best to observe it. Sometimes I feel like I'm one of the last of a dying breed--car drivers who actually signal BEFORE making a turn or changing a lane, as opposed to during it, or never (not sure which of these pisses me off more). I also don't understand, and can't stand, idiots who don't realize, or care, that except when there's heavy traffic, you don't linger in the PASSING lane, and only using it for, oh, PASSING, DUH! (I tell myself that these are the 28%ers and/or morons who bought houses they couldn't afford with bad credit and ARMs that jump up to double digit in six months--i.e. people who shouldn't be allowed to drive golf carts let alone cars at speed!!!).

    Really, though, all of this basically comes down to having and using common sense, reading and observing road signs, and not doing anything obviously stupid. Which, obviously, are things that an awful and scary number of "drivers" either cannot or will not do. I'm just glad that I don't have to drive that often, and when I do drive, I make sure to be on the lookout for these yahoos, and give them a very wide berth. I've even called in a few to 911 when they were behaving especially erratically and dangerously. These people need to be behind bars, not a steering wheel. DWS (Driving While Stupid) should be a punishable offense.

    Since you drive a truck, a quick question. You mentioned that it's ok to drive behind a truck. Well, as I'm sure you know, being in a truck's slipstream increases one's gas mileage a lot, as much as 30% I believe. I've even tried this a few times for long enough distances to measure gas mileage, and have noticed this myself. Is this something that is ok with truck drivers, or a bad idea, or simply bad manners? If it's ok, is there a time or distance limit to how long one should stay behind a given truck before switching to another one? The few times that I've done this (mostly driving cross-country), I've made sure to switch trucks every 10-15 minutes or so. What's your opinion on doing this? Ok, not ok, or ok with conditions?

    "I will vote for the Democratic candidate for president--period." --Me

    by kovie on Sat May 24, 2008 at 01:48:32 PM PDT

    •  Stay a Couple Seconds Back and Nobody Cares (5+ / 0-)

      As long as you aren't in real tight I don't know of any driver who objects to slipstreaming as long as you're not tailgating.

      No need to switch trucks, if he wants you off his ass he'll communicate that desire, generally by tapping the brake lights a couple times. Just pick one going the speed you like and tuck in.

      We have no intention of prosecuting Rush Limbaugh because lying through your teeth and being stupid isn't a crime.

      by The Baculum King on Sat May 24, 2008 at 01:57:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FunkyEntropy, berkeleybarb

        When I do this, I make sure to stay back 2-3 car lengths, which I think is close enough to gain most of the benefits of slipstreaming and avoid some yahoo trying to wedge in between me and the truck, but far back enough to not be tailgating. Is this far enough, or should I make it further back, and if so how much? Also, if I get the sense that the driver isn't comfortable with this, I switch trucks right away. I'm not going to mess with someone's livelihood--or life. But just to be sure, I switch anyway.

        I actually learned about slipstreaming from cycling, where it's standard practice in racing and training. I don't race, but I have friends who do, and have tried it a few times and noticed the benefits immediately--you can clearly feel the decrease in air resistance. Ironically, other cyclists often slipstream behind me, because I often ride at what are moderately fast speeds for a recreational cyclist, 18-22mph.

        These are basically strangers that I encounter while cycling who hop along for a free ride for 2-3 miles. It actually pisses me off, since they generally don't ask if it's ok, don't thank me for it, and when they're done, don't pull out ahead and return the favor. Plus, some ride dangerously close to my rear wheel, which is STUPID, because even the slightest contact causes the rear rider to instantly lose control and crash.

        One idiot actually did this when I had to slow down to hop a bump, which caused him to immediately crash his bike, snap his frame (thus destroying it beyond repair), and suffer moderate cuts, bruises and probably some bone, muscle and joint damage. I of course stopped to help him, and he turned out to be mostly ok. But had he not been wearing a helmet or were we riding in heavy traffic or going downhill, it could have been much, much worse for him.

        Stupid is as stupid does, I guess, whether in driving, cycling, or just living.

        Thanks again for the great advice.

        "I will vote for the Democratic candidate for president--period." --Me

        by kovie on Sat May 24, 2008 at 02:13:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Most truckers don't. (0+ / 0-)

        I unfortunately had the lovely experience of being deliberately forced off the road into a long stretch of median by three truckers pulling a "rock the cradle" move.  I was beyond ticked and my then 11 yo stepdaughter was scared out of her mind.  When she started driving, she literally floor it and wouldn't let any of the big trucks get anywhere near her on the interstate.  Meanwhile, I am sitting shotgun yelling at her to slow down and just let them pass you.  She's calmed down a lot since then but she still gets nervous.

        Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and co-operation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace. D. Eisenhower

        by Swatmacher on Sat May 24, 2008 at 02:24:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I agree with TBK (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rockhound, kovie

      I don't care. Unless I hit something like a building, you can stop faster than I can, so you probably won't rearend me. But keep your eyes peeled and be prepared. Heck, I get tailgated so much, I don't even notice most times.

      •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

        It helps a lot to know this, as I wasn't sure if this was safe, dangerous or rude.

        "I will vote for the Democratic candidate for president--period." --Me

        by kovie on Sat May 24, 2008 at 02:14:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Be careful though (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rockhound, kovie

          Be careful. Go into a truckstop with four guys, ask a question, and you'll get seven opinions. If you get 'brake checked' or something like that, just move on to the next guy.

          And speaking as a former driver's ed instructor, please, please, please make sure you are only doing this when you think nothing is going on in front of the truck.

          I do draft a little myself in the truck. If you read all the replies, you might have seen where I mentioned that many company trucks are limited to 65 mph. Well, 65 on my truck might be one mph faster than the next guy. If speeds are close, I wait until the last possible second to move into the passing lane. First reason is to give other traffic as much time as possible to get around. Second is to put me in the passing lane for as little time as possible. Final reason is that you get a tiny bit of draft that makes you pass a tiny bit faster.

          Yeah, I could probably just kick my speed down a notch, but I get paid by the mile, and am often on a tight schedule.

    •  I've done some slipstreaming (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and I was taught that you have to stay far enough back to see the trucker's mirrors. Any closer, and s/he can't see you.

      Be sure to use the recycle button on your AC/heat control, so you don't breathe a lot of fumes.

      The degree to which you resist injustice is the degree to which you are free. -- Utah Phillips

      by Mnemosyne on Sat May 24, 2008 at 02:08:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good point about the recycle button (0+ / 0-)

        And although it's been a while since I've done this, I'm pretty sure that I always make sure to be able to see the driver's mirrors. As everyone knows (or should know), if you can't see their mirrors, they can't see you. And that's BAD when pulling 80k lbs.

        "I will vote for the Democratic candidate for president--period." --Me

        by kovie on Sat May 24, 2008 at 02:17:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Many thanks to truckers (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sockpuppet, rockhound, Audio Guy, jemjo

    I can't count the number of times in bad weather when I have just gotten (a generous following distance) behind a truck that was going steady, steady, down the highway. Once was in pea-soup fog up in Maine, and I could hardly see the road but I could see his taillights, all the way from Bangor to Searsport. Another was the corner of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, in a downpour.

    I rode with truckers back in the 1970s when hitchhiking wasn't quite as dangerous (or so we told ourselves), and learned a lot about what the road looks like to them, how they need running distance on a steep downhill so don't get in front of them, how to signal them that it's OK for them to pull in front of you after passing you, and all that. It opened my eyes to their world.

    Thank you for posting.

    •  so true ruby! (0+ / 0-)

      i have to go three hours north of bangor to see the folks -- never fails to be snowy, foggy, or crazy raining when i'm there and I pray for a big old bright truck to follow!! (and clear the moose out of the road :)

  •  I remember reading about that (0+ / 0-)

    wreck. I-40, yes? Sympathy to you for having to go through that, and thanks for an excellent diary.

    My father learned to drive way back when and drove all over this country on unpaved roads and through a good bit of WW2 Europe. Much later, he taught me to drive. I had to know a fair amount about engine mechanics as well as how to change a tire before going out on my own. He was tough, and I have often thanked his spirit.

    About 10 years ago, southbound on I-95 in eastern North Carolina, with the January temperature hovering at freezing, rain started turning to light snow, then sleet. The good ol' boys in their SUVs figured they'd get out of it sooner if they drove faster. Me, I got off the road and found a nice dry motel.

    In the morning, 3 inches of ice on the car.

    The degree to which you resist injustice is the degree to which you are free. -- Utah Phillips

    by Mnemosyne on Sat May 24, 2008 at 02:01:15 PM PDT

  •  Great diary. My pet peeve was iPass, at least (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stranded Wind

    when it was first introduced in Illinois: the left lanes were reserved for iPass at tolls, which resulted in people driving in the passing lane for their entire trip, regardless of how slow they were going.  Since they no longer had to stop at tolls or change lanes (ever), they drove as if asleep.

  •  Accident had nothing to do with "sharing road" (0+ / 0-)

    Not sure why diarist framed the traffic incident that way. It was an act of criminal mischief, nothing at all to do with driving around tractor trailers.

    Also not sure what was the point of the "trucks are our friends" paragraphs which took up most of the rest of the posting.

    Do we get "No Farmers No Food" next week?  "No oil no trucks" the week after that?  Each industry claims it is "essential", mostly in PR campaigns to get tax breaks or subsidies in some form.

    The whole post could be lifted from the trucking industry association website and doesn't have any obvious relevancy to DKOS as "It's a Democratic blog with one goal in mind: electoral victory."

  •  Thanks for reposting this (0+ / 0-)

    (annually) timely diary.  Certain comments made me go back to read your earlier ones, which led me to some of the gun threads you've been subjected to.  (I especially liked your revelation of the chemical school and the "talent" available to you at that age due to army regs.) (!)  So I know where the Marlborough Man stuff emanates from (I'm not being snarky -- I've come to respect those who prepare themselves for the worst, especially when coupled with a sensitivity towards others' opinions and freedoms), but where does the writing talent come from?  Just curious.  Add intelligence, the afore-mentioned sensitivity, and whaddya get?  A liberal truck driver who's not too busy and cares enough about the rest of us to roll this warning out at the beginning of heavy-driving season.  I, for one, am glad as hell you're on our side.

    (Joe Bageant taught me that my largely knee jerk attitude towards guns was not only a lost cause, but a mis-directed sentiment usually periodically brought about by shooting tragedies perpetrated by sociopaths.  Count me now as an ultra-liberal who supports responsible gun ownership.)  

    As a former professional driver (small time local - deliveries, taxi cabs), I totally agree with your views on the insanity of many, if not most, drivers and how little they appreciate the laws of physics concomitant with piloting 2 ton (and up) assemblages of steel.  There's nothing like being behind the wheel 40 hours a week as a livelihood to bring focus to the antics of most casual drivers.  

    I think it'd be a kick to be a passenger on one of your long hauls sometime.  We could talk some shit.

    Only two things are infinite: the universe, and human stupidity... and I'm not too sure about the former... Albert Einstein

    by ceebee7 on Sat May 24, 2008 at 02:16:49 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for the well-writen (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and informative diary today.  I have not read this one before and hope that you will re-post this perhaps on a weekly basis.  Try a different day/time to perhaps reach more people.  I think this is important for people to know.

    Some people will never get it and some will survive in spite of themselves.  I must admit that I am guilty of many roadway transgressions but have come to my senses since living in the country.

    I would like to mention to anyone reading.  This may seem obvious to most but to the people that do this it is apparently a trivial matter.  

    Do not ever cross the double yellow line to pass cars or trucks in front of you.  The few seconds saved are not worth the risk to yourself or others.

    I have seen too many fatal crashes on our local two lane roads just because someone could not wait for a few minutes.  It is much easier and way more comfortable to sit in your car seat driving slowly than to be in a cast, hospital bed, wheel chair or any other medical apparatus for a short or extended period/lifetime.

    Thanks again.

    "The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving." Oliver Wendell Holmes

    by AvoMonster on Sat May 24, 2008 at 02:18:07 PM PDT

  •  Many thanks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nadnerb in NC

    for the good advice.

    There's a stretch of I-81 south of Wilkes Barre that give me the willies when I drive it at night. Lots of big rigs, with speeding cars weaving in and out of traffic, and a highway that takes a big, sweeping curve as it heads down a fairly steep incline. Makes me super nervous, even in good weather. Drove it last night and as usual slowed my speed to 50 from 65 and stayed in the right-hand lane. Still not a comfortable commute, but less wearing on the psyche--and hopefully safer--than if taken at full speed.

  •  My recent near-crash experience. (5+ / 0-)

    Some accidents have bad weather, acts of god and other factors to blame - but some are just a bucket of stupid looking for somewhere to happen, and they don't always wait for a reason.

    There are days that are simply perfect for driving - bright, sunny days with not a cloud in the sky, comfortable temperature, and sun overhead, when it feels like there's nothing better you could be doing than just driving along. The CA bay area seems to have a few hundred of these every year.

    In this case it was the 880 freeway in Fremont - a perfect five-lane freeway, with the traffic moving along at a appropriate 55 MPH for the moderately busy road. Straight as an arrow, everything was perfect for safe driving.

    The reason I use indicators isn't because I expect other drivers to make a space - I learned early that CA drivers see them as a sign of weakness. I use them because it forces me to think about what I'm about to do, and be alert while I'm doing it

    In this case I was coming out of the rightmost lane. Three lanes over is a silver Merc. coupe with both of us sitting in a rare gap in the traffic. I put on my indicators, waited, and moved over. Several seconds later I caught movement out of corner of my eye - the guy in the coupe was making a very quick multilane change and he hadn't looked around recently...

    Fortunately we were in a gap in the traffic, so I slowed down moderately quickly - as all I needed to do was make sure I wasn't where he was in the lane when he arrived.

    Unfortunately he chose this moment to wake up. He swung the car left - which just got it heading towards the concrete carrier on the left. He hit it hard but was turning the wheel right to compensate and was now flying across lanes to the right, sideswiped a car in the rightmost lane, panicked again and swung the wheel to the left - crossing back across the lanes to slide along the concrete barrier and eventually come to rest.

    Fortunately nobody was hurt - a miracle considering he'd crossed a total of eleven lanes on a crowded freeway totally out of control.

    The point? No matter what the conditions there's always a good reason to be cautious.

    "What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?" -- Lady McBeth

    by OneLawForAll on Sat May 24, 2008 at 02:26:14 PM PDT

  •  Excellent stuff. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Oddly enough, I've actually thought about doing a diver-oriented diary for a while now.  Although, to be fair, it would be more of a bitch and rant-fest.  Mainly I'd harp on people going slow in the fast lane, people going fast in the slow lane, fuck you if you tailgate, and a little something I call the Law of Maximum Speed.  Essentially, your maximum speed is that of the guy in front of you.  Going faster than that means you will have to slow down and match his speed at some point.

    Great diary.  As a general rule when driving in heavy traffic, I always prefer to share the lane with the trucks because they, like I do, seem to hate having to start and stop constantly.

    The true measure of a man's character lies not in how he treats his friends, but in how he treats his enemies.

    by FunkyEntropy on Sat May 24, 2008 at 02:32:04 PM PDT

  •  Many thanks TBK, I've printed out your (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stranded Wind

    diary for my husband and sons and if they don't think they have time to read it, I'll read it aloud to them. Here on the Calif freeways, trucks just petrify me but then so do the autos flying by at twice the speed limit.  I believe the fuel studies done during the last gas crisis in the '70s indicated that driving at 55 mph significantly improved the performance and conserved gas.  Please post this diary at least twice a year, before Memorial Day weekend and Labour Day weekend. Very well written too!  Special thanks again...

    In youth we learn, in age we understand.

    by Jbeaudill on Sat May 24, 2008 at 02:34:17 PM PDT

  •  Wife and I drove a truck 1700 miles in January (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nadnerb in NC, Stranded Wind

    In about five minutes of driving that behemoth, I gained more respect for truck drivers than for those in most other professions.

    The number of people who drive like trucks don't matter is breathtaking.

  •  rules of the road (5+ / 0-)

    According to a recent survey, about 1 in 6 drivers would fail a written test if they took it today. The 2008 GMAC Insurance National Driver Test survey involved 5,524 drivers from all 50 states. Here are some of the results:

    • Drivers over 35 years old were more likely to pass than younger drivers.
    • Drivers from the Northeast had the lowest scores and the highest failure rate; the Northeast includes New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, etc.
    • Drivers from the Midwest had the highest scores and the lowest failure rate.

    Click here to take the GMAC Insurance Test.

    Gimme back my broken night
    my mirrored room, my secret life
    --Leonard Cohen, The Future

    by Tenuous Leemployed on Sat May 24, 2008 at 02:39:45 PM PDT

  •  thanks (0+ / 0-)

    my brother and my brother-in-law are truck drivers...i've spent a lot of years trying to explain the physics to my friends who were scared or confused by the way that big trucks are driven.  Except in the rain or snow (where my little car gets killed by the splash) i'd rather be on a highway with only trucks any day.

    thank safe

  •  You need to write a book (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stranded Wind

    about car crashes, for use in new driver training courses.

    Your writing style paints very vivid pictures.

  •  Wherein one learns... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nadnerb in NC

    that even a wonderfully written diary like this one is less than likely to make the rec list late on a Friday, but fortunately will be seen and appreciated on a Saturday morning :)  I'm sending my family to read it!

    Mike: "I miss my sense of outrage." Kim: "I know... What was it like?" [Garry Trudeau, Doonesbury (from memory)]

    by berkeleybarb on Sat May 24, 2008 at 02:41:55 PM PDT

  •  Turn Signals (5+ / 0-)

    When in truck driving school, I was very leery of passing. I would signal, wait, wait, wait, wait, then move over. After a little bit of this, one instructor said "George, in a truck, when you turn on a signal, you aren't asking for permission; you are telling the other people what will happen."

  •  oh no, not this shit again (0+ / 0-)

    when this piece of violence-porn trash is called "teaching" and gets on the recommend list it's a clear sign that this place has gone down the drain.  way way way way down.

  •  Cruise Control ---KILLS When the Road's Slippery (6+ / 0-)

    Thanks for reminding everyone about this fact because far too many drivers don't know. Once upon a time, my ignorance of this almost killed ME   I can still remember suddenly moving down a wide mountain highway sideways about 65mph on unexpected black ice. I was looking straight out the drivers' side window at a slow-moving big Kenworth that I had just passed. The conclusion of this story follows a brief pause for a physics lesson.

    If your car is on "cruise" and you hit a patch of ice, or if you start hydroplaning, your powered wheels, which you set at 70mph, can't tell.  They just keep on spinning and maintaining what they think is 70mph.

    It doesn't matter a bit to them if you are headed down the road forwards, backwards or sideways; that dutiful speed control computer keeps on working to spin your powered wheels at what they perceive to be 70mph.

    In contrast, if you start into a spin while driving normally (i.e. intelligently), you instinctively take your foot off the gas.  In response, the rear wheels slow down and provide a gentle drag, and that tends to bring the rear (powered) wheels back in line behind the free-rolling front ones, thereby preventing or stopping a spin. (I'm not absolutely sure, but I think the Front Wheel Drive car rolls backwards down the road, but most importantly, it tends to stop spinning.)

    Now, to continue my own tale, I quickly realized that I was on black ice and that I had left my cruise control on. I tapped a pedal to disengage cruise, and let the car straighten out. The rear end took a couple wide fishtail swings, alternating to either side while I tried to hold steady and not overcontrol the steering. I was scared that it would start to spin, but it didn't. The car just continued down the highway at the same speed, and now with the cruise control OFF.  I wished I could apologize to that driver behind me for scaring him.  I couldn't, but I promised myself to spread the word about "cruise control".

    So, turn off your cruise control when you smell rain or when the temperature drops or when the traffic gets heavy,  or any other damn time you need better control--which is most of the time.

    Bush hijacked the US with lies about 9/11 and crashed it into Iraq, killing over 500,000 human beings. So far, he's avoided arrest and prosecution.

    by Zydekos on Sat May 24, 2008 at 03:12:01 PM PDT

  •  THANK YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (0+ / 0-)

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    there's 10 types of people in the world, those who understand ternary, those who don't, and those who think its' binary

    by bnasley on Sat May 24, 2008 at 03:15:44 PM PDT

  •  Hats off to you and all responsible (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    amanuensis, Stranded Wind, SciVo

    semi-drivers. I was traveling from FL to OH with a 3mos old preemie on oxygen. (He was born in FL but my neice died 2wks after he was born and we were bringing him home.) We got stuck in traffic in Atlanta due to a 10 car pile up in the rain. As I entered the mountains of GA and TN, it got very foggy and visibility was low. I followed a semi's taillight until I got the Lexington/Louisville split. As I passed him to take my exit he blew his horn. He knew I was following him and I am forever grateful for him for making my trip not only easier but safer. Again hats off!

    "Give me where to stand, and I will move the earth." Archimedes

    by dtruth on Sat May 24, 2008 at 03:53:28 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for this. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk, dnn, rockhound, SciVo

    I was lucky enough to work as a cashier at a truck stop along I80 for a few years. Gentlemen such as yourself gave me more education on driving safely than I learned in drivers' ed and the 10 years I had spent driving up until then. It has stood me in good stead since. If this diary educates even one person, that might be one less accident down the road. Once again, my profound respect.

  •  Two malicious teenagers need to be considered as (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stranded Wind

    part of this problem, too. It wasn't just the trucker's fault that this accident happened. The basic cause was criminal behavior.  But I would imagine if these teens are ever caught, they will get off with a slap on the wrist.  

    A fitting community service for these teen-criminals would be to ride with the highway ambulance crew every night for 15 years, or until they learn to re-attach lost limbs on accident victims.

  •  THANK YOU!! (0+ / 0-)

    Great advice.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Sat May 24, 2008 at 04:13:22 PM PDT

  •  I have never understood thos drivers that take (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dnn, Nadnerb in NC

    all day to pass a truck. When I come upon one, I hang back. Wait for the idiot to get pass and get clear of the truck. Then, I accelerate like mad and pass the truck like there is no tomorrow, because, I know, if I hug that truck, there will be no tomorrow.

    ", syrup ,..., shit ,..., hotcakes." Meteor Blades
    John McCain

    by JugOPunch on Sat May 24, 2008 at 04:20:42 PM PDT

  •  This post has been saved under my safety folder (0+ / 0-)


    ", syrup ,..., shit ,..., hotcakes." Meteor Blades
    John McCain

    by JugOPunch on Sat May 24, 2008 at 04:23:35 PM PDT

  •  A must-read for beginning drivers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stranded Wind, SciVo

    I'm going through the difficult process of teaaching y daughter to drive, and I'm going to have her read your post. I seem to be having a difficult time impressing on her the that the main goal when driving is to arrive at your destination alive and in one piece.
    I'll have her read this.

  •  The only thing I didn't see (4+ / 0-)

    was never drive tired.  It is amazingly easy to slip off to sleep while driving.  The only wreck I ever had was falling asleep not three miles from home.  I just knew I could make it....shows what I knew.

    If we want peace, why do we give weapons and call it "aid"?

    by gdwtch52 on Sat May 24, 2008 at 05:00:14 PM PDT

    •  Now I know 3 people who survived this... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gdwtch52, SciVo

      A guy I work with fell asleep at the wheel of an armored car in Nevada - rolled it 10 times, came out of it with only a broken arm.

      My ex-BIL did the same in a small pickup 15 years ago - you can STILL see the gap in the trees where he hit. All he got were bruises, scratches, and a destroyed truck.

      •  I hit a pole... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nadnerb in NC

        and the engine came throught the firewall.  Crunched frontend buckled the door open and I rolled out.  Considering that when I hit the curb, it woke me up enought o stomp down on the gas instead of the brake...yea, it was lucky, in a bizarro world kind of way.  Ribs cracked, cuts and bruising is a great lesson learned.  STOP and sleep, no matter how close you think you are.

        If we want peace, why do we give weapons and call it "aid"?

        by gdwtch52 on Sun May 25, 2008 at 08:17:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  on style . . . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nadnerb in NC, jnhobbs

    TBK - I make most of my living as a writer, and I have  to say this was an awesome piece of work. You've got the chops, man.

    It's also about to get forwarded to all my nearest and dearest...


  •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for the repost. It would be worth seeing every year, as far as I am concerned.

    Having been in the ER, surgical suite, and ICU's when folks came out the other end, I can only hope that your words have meaning to the readers. Me included.

    Common Sense is not Common

    by RustyBrown on Sat May 24, 2008 at 06:06:21 PM PDT

  •  Deja Vu all over again! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

        I was taught how to drive by a professional truck driver, and he told me everything you wrote (and then some).

        He went over 2 million miles without an accident, so I took what he said to heart.

        His advice has served me well for almost 40 years!

  •  I skipped the stories (0+ / 0-)

    because I'm squeamish but read the advice - which is very valuable. A friend of mine works in safety at an LTL freight company, and ever since having some conversations with him, I am incredibly alert to all the tractor-trailers on the road . . . and more alert in general.  

  •  Have you ever thought of writing a book? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dnn, yuriwho, SciVo

    Seriously. And I mean seriously. As in I'm not kidding. You write really well, interspersing the road stories with your advice is an extremely effective device, and you have a great hook: all the gore--and how to avoid being part of it. Plus you have the bonafides, the real street cred, you know of what you speak. Find thyself a literary agent, oh ye great regent of the pecker bone!

    P.S. Thanks for inspiring me to look up "baculum".

    •  I've Got One "Written" in My Head (0+ / 0-)

      Just haven't gotten around to writing it down, but it's not about trucking.

      We have no intention of prosecuting Rush Limbaugh because lying through your teeth and being stupid isn't a crime.

      by The Baculum King on Sat May 24, 2008 at 06:41:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Take it from a published fiction writer (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Okay, only in small journals, and one collection of short stories that no one has ever heard of. But published, and that's the first step.

        Nonfiction is where the money is in today's market, and the best way to start a career. Turn this diary into a book, get your ass out on the PR circuit, hit the sweet spot on Oprah, and then they'll pay you unholy large duckets to write that other one that's rattling around in your head. I'm guessing that one is a novel, but don't heckle me too much if I'm wrong.

        I've been talking to an agent about a book of mine. He and I haven't signed a contract yet but I like him a whole lot better than the other slime dogs, I mean baby-eating undead, I mean literary agents I've dealt with. I'm sending him a link to this diary. Doesn't mean he'll do anything, but I wouldn't do that if I didn't seriously think it would be good for him to look at this.

        Keep safe--and I have to say this--keep on truckin'.

      •  Btw what is the origin of your handle (0+ / 0-)

        pardon me for using CB

        Are you the King of Bacteria? Or something completely different?

        "lovely little thinker but a bugger when he's pissed"

        by yuriwho on Sat May 24, 2008 at 08:56:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wow. Timely and extremely sagacious advice (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dnn, Nadnerb in NC, SciVo

    I'm printing this one out to give to the spouse who just doesn't get it about driving a safe speed for the conditions.  She thinks that "going with the flow of traffic" is always the best action.  Not always.

    I've had high-performance driver training and the one thing I learned most deeply and instinctively from that training is:  Always leave room for margin of error.   So anytime I'm on the road, anywhere, some automatic part of me just automatically scans the terrain in front of me, around me, behind me to keep me in that "room for margin of error".  

    I've more than proven the wisdom and reliability of such deeply ingrained instincts for safety in the past couple of years, because that "margin for error" has miraculously (so it seemed) spared us from major collison and/or injury at least three times.  

    (Once the spouse was screaming through the whole incident, and was totally shakingly incredulous as I maneuvered out of the way (having a well-tuned vehicle more than helps) from what was so closely a head-on/broadside collision, and I just kept going.  ("Could we please pull over and stop for a minute after that?" was the choked plea from the passenger side.))  It was all in having that constant "margin for error".

    I also drive with an "inviting space" between my vehicle and the one in front of me.  And often other drivers just pull into it, believing their vehicle just "fits" in there.  And many do it without even signaling the lane change, either.

    Thanks BK, for the validation of my instincts about passing or finding myself driving next to a semi.   I always try to stay in front or behind, or pass 'em as quickly as possible.   I didn't really know the reality of the situation until I read what you wrote.

    I always trust the truck drivers out on the Interstates.   If they slow down, I slow down.  I always monitor how the flow of the commercial truck drivers is going.   If they seem cautious, even if for no apparent reason to me, I take a cue from them.  Definitely.

    (Once in my younger days, I was between two 18-wheelers, we were doin' 80 on the freeway, and I was in the rockin' chair position.   I was listening to music and daydreaming, when the truck in front me suddenly slowed way down.  I just pulled out to move to pass 'im, when a hand stuck outta the driver's window signaling me a "NO".  Good thing.  Highway Patrol speedtrap, just ahead.  I've trusted the truck drivers ever since...

    Thanks for a great diary post today.  I hope everyone has a safe Memorial Day weekend.

    "A bad government is elected by good people who do not vote in elections." -- Unknown, pg 342, "The Shell Game" by Steve Alten

    by sockpuppet on Sat May 24, 2008 at 06:56:01 PM PDT

  •  Damn - got here WAY late.... (0+ / 0-)

    Read one of the ones this is part of - and THANK YOU.

    I've become much more aware and at ease around semis, and more aware of my surroundings when driving.

    Just went from a Camry to a small SUV (Escape)last Thanlsgiving. It's taken me a little while to get used to - but I love having the extra visibility from sitting a little higher.

    The only thing I really miss is that the new wheels are an Automatic. The 5 speed stick was better on gas, and allowed for better control. The only thing I hated with the stick was that the jerks with automatics kept sticking me between gears.

    Lastly (phew!!)- as you mentioned, you don't always need to use your brakes if traffic is slowing - it only creates an accordian, and causes those DWT* to wreck...(Driving while Talking on Cell)

  •  Great diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nadnerb in NC, SciVo

    Although I'm not a trucker, I've logged quite a few miles on the interstate highways. Two cross-country trips on I-80, several trips on I-75 and I-95 up and down the east coast, and I've driven I-80 between Chicago and NYC so many times I could probably do it blindfolded by now. Luckily, I've been fortunate not to get myself involved in any nasty situations so far.

    Maybe I developed a healthy appreciation of the highway at an early age... When I was a kid, my family was traveling from North Carolina to Cincinnati for a family visit. Somewhere along I-75 in Kentucky, after being stuck in a miles-long traffic jam caused by rubberneckers, we finally came upon the most horrific wreck scene I've ever encountered. Apparently a large dump truck, for whatever reasons, had lost control and crossed the median from the northbound lanes into the southbound lanes, and collided head-on with a large RV.

    The dump truck had a damaged grille and a few dents on the hood of the cab. The entire front half of the RV, though, had been obliterated. There wasn't a piece of it left on the highway bigger than a toothpick. By the time we got to the scene, the clean-up crews were loading the rear half of the RV onto a flatbed tow truck. Seeing that gave me a healthy appreciation of the laws of physics.

    That said, though, I usually enjoy being on the open road, and so far I've been lucky enough to have a good safety record. City driving, though, scares the shit out of me. Most of my accidents and near-misses have been on city streets. Just give me a MetroCard and I'll gladly take the subway.

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." -- Sinclair Lewis

    by Living in Gin on Sat May 24, 2008 at 08:23:36 PM PDT

  •  You are my hero-- (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nadnerb in NC, yuriwho

    Baculum King.

    You are so generous to share your experience and wisdom here.

    You are a perfect example of using your expertise to make the world better.

    Thank you for posting this. I hope you repost it frequently.

    Nebraska: Who knew it was a hotbed of activist trust-funded latte-drinking Prius-driving brainwashed caucusers? It's not just about the corn.

    by cultural worker on Sat May 24, 2008 at 08:32:54 PM PDT

  •  This awesome diary could save your life. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nadnerb in NC, yuriwho, SciVo

    If you bother to read it, which I recommend.

    I try to practice SA:  situation awareness.

    Once on the NJ Turnpike driving southbond up over the swamp south of the tolls to the GW bridge, I remember becoming aware that something odd was happening to the truck uphill and in front of me.  It looked like a wobble, I though maybe he was going to jacknife, so I gunned the accelerator and passed him.  (the old slant-6 had some good power back then)  I watched in the review mirror as the guy's left back tire detached from the vehicle, bounded down the highway and narrowly missed smashing an RV before flying off into the swamp.  

    Paying attention won't save you everytime, but it sure helps.

  •  As a retired Teamster, I salute you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yuriwho, SciVo

    Excellent information, well presented. I am sorry to hear about the serious accidents that you have been involved in. I know how those can haunt you, how you will always have a slight residual tinge of...remorse..."Was there anything I could have differently...was I keeping my eyes moving, exactly what was my following distance, did I leave myself an out, etc..."
    You know, though, that by posting these diaries, I would not be at all surprised that you have saved at least one life.  

  •  I see lots of very good advice here (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nadnerb in NC, SciVo

    Can I toss out there the idea that chugging coffee, turning on the AC, or blaring the radio might not keep you awake if you're dead dog tired? I've been doing an almost 100 mile daily round trip commute to work for 12 years.  My route has a nearly 30 mile stretch of nothing but corn fields and trees. It is really hard to not be lulled into inattention even if you are fully awake. If you're drowsy, you're likely to wind up like one of the poor souls I see seemingly every two weeks who have driven off the road and into the trees.

    I was lucky enough to have this lesson driven home without having to pay a heavy price. I was going to work one morning, my daughter was strapped into her car seat, and I was running on a couple hours of sleep as was the norm for me when my daughter was a baby. I was probably doing 65 when I fell asleep and drove down an embankment. Somehow I managed to drive back up it without losing control. Cured me of burning the candle at both ends.

    •  Neither does pulling into a rest area and (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      napping for 10-15 minutes - that makes you even more tired. Unfortunately - this comes from personal experience.

      •  An Hour Can Sure Help (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nadnerb in NC, gdwtch52, SciVo

        But less than that isn't worth the effort.

        We have no intention of prosecuting Rush Limbaugh because lying through your teeth and being stupid isn't a crime.

        by The Baculum King on Sat May 24, 2008 at 09:29:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yup - Had a State Trooper at a rest stop (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          during one 16 hour trip tell me that he wanted me to take a nap before I started off again. When I asked him how long - he said not until you hear my siren, or I'm writing you a ticket.

          2 hours later, he ended up having to knock on my window to wake me up because his shift was over, and he didn't know who was taking his place there.

          Now I ALWAYS factor in at least a 1 or 2 hour nap on either long trip (10 or 16 hours) I make

        •  How Long A Nap? (0+ / 0-)

          BK, personal experience differs, as you can see from your comment and that of Nadnerb. For me, five or ten minutes will often be very refreshing and cure me of the nods for an hour.
          I know something of the sleep science behind this, and have some personal experience. Here are a few facts you can match with your own experience:

          1. The average tired person without a big "sleep debt", who gets a bit sleepy during the day should take a nap of less than 30 minutes. A longer daytime nap resets the biological clock into thinking that their wake-up time is morning. Then, they're not sleepy at bedtime.
          1. If you are running a big sleep deficiency, and you owe your "sleep bank" many hours that you borrowed over the previous days, you can sleep an hour or more without the bio clock interfering with regular sleep that night.  I would bet this is what you refer to, BK. You can sleep an hour beside the road, feel better, and avoid crashing until you get to the appropriate place--your bed.
          1. Watch out for 4PM. Even well rested people doze off most easily at this time of day.  
          1. Caffeine--if you have a big sleep debt, you can usually drink a cup in the evening to wake up and finish what you need to do, and still go to sleep OK.  However, you might wake a few hours later after some of your sleep debt is repaid. Then you lie there cursing that cuppa joe and wondering if you should just get up and do something useful.
          1. Watch out for sleep apnea, usually signalled by heavy snoring. I've known a lot of drivers who put on weight and start to snore heavily at night, and then have a terrible time staying awake at the wheel. Short naps (even 10 min) are usually very helpful for these folks--until they see a sleep doc and get the right treatment.  

          I'll stop before it's a diary. Safe highways to you!

          Bush hijacked the US with lies about 9/11 and crashed it into Iraq, killing over 500,000 human beings. So far, he's avoided arrest and prosecution.

          by Zydekos on Mon May 26, 2008 at 07:15:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'm going to be very unpopular here: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gdwtch52, SciVo

    An important way to reduce fatalities, every thing else being equal [that you must drive, and all other variables remain in play] is to have everyone reduce their speed.

    That would save gas, a LOT of it, too.

    I save at least 15% of my gas bill driving 55 instead of 70MPH.

    I know. It's Un-American to drive 55MPH.

    "If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." We need to go far, quickly.

    by shpilk on Sat May 24, 2008 at 09:49:32 PM PDT

  •  4WD insanity (0+ / 0-)

    They really should make the buyers take a special test.

    There are those that think they can drive anywhere in any weather.......AARGH.....  these always make for spectacular accidents on roads like the Taconic State Parkway (nice windy road going north roughly between NYC burbs and near Albany)

    Saw one once on the TOP of the nice large snow banks you get from the plows - wheels straddling either side of the roughly 5 foot high snow bank.  BUT THE SUV WAS POINTING THE WRONG WAY!!!!  How on earth they got on TOP of that snow bank facing the wrong way was beyond my comprehension.

    Then you have those suburban housewives that simply shuld not be allowed near anything bigger than an old Dodge Dart.   Watched a huge GMC back up OVER THE HOOD of a poor Toyota - she didn't even know it was there (or apparently feel the crunching)....  the opposite extreme was the Expedition backing out of a spot going back and forth 12 times to avoid hitting the car behind her - she stopped a good 4 feet short of it each time as she went back and forth, clearly having NO IDEA where that car was relative to her rear bumper.

    but what you drive matters not if you're stupid

    I lived through years of driving the Taconic and driving on snowy and icy roads in upstate NY.  Have been lucky.  Nothing like driving along in rain that turns to sleet, with the road icing instantly.  Get off the gas, try and keep going straight and don't go near the brakes if you can help it.... try to ease up on your speed and keep control because you're now a puck on a giant air hockey table, with a ZERO coefficient of friction between you and the road......  in a less lucky scenario, watching a car hit the guardrail a good third of a mile ahead (could see the snow poof up), I tried to brake slowly and found a complete disconnect between my tires and the road.... not going all that fast, I started spinning anyway.... hit the clutch, into neutral and managed to stay on the road, coming to a stop just short of the car ahead who had STOPPED DEAD IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD after sideswiping the guard rail.....  was behind another who insanely was driving at twice any rational speed - he got off an exit, made the stop at the end of the ramp and then turned left headed OVER the highway (bridges DO ice first), spun out and into the guardrail....

    But the worst was an old woman (sorry but old people should get tested FAR more often) who stopped DEAD on I-287 when her lap dog (riding ON her lap while she was driving) jumped out the open driver's window.  Real nice pile up.

    Regarding the old people meme - a neighbor in her 70s would NOT make left hand turns anymore (recognizing that she had SOME limitations).  Every trip involved a great circle route.  She was put in a home when the wall in her apartment caught fire from having her TV on constantly for a month (old tube kinds ran hot).

    You have to drive defensively - and expect ANYTHING, no matter HOW STUPID AND UNLIKELY you think it might be

  •  Driving the long way across Nebraska, age 17 (0+ / 0-)

    3 AM. Interstate. No moon, no streetlamps.  3 other people asleep in back of big Olds station wagon.

    Got sick of the flatland monotony, feeling a bit punchy, and of course, invincible.

    Speed crept to 80ish and stayed there for a few hours until a pair of motorcycles whipped by at 100+.  Decided to follow these hares, on the theory that 3 idiots together make... well, a convoy of idiots.

    The POS Olds wagon, loaded with people and gear, could just barely keep up. I hung with them for several minutes at ~105 before they exchanged some kind of hand signal, punched it up another notch, and began to pull away.

    Just then a large brown THING materialized in our lane, directly ahead of the bikes and caught in the headlight glare.  One taillight cluster vaulted straight up and disappeared.  I swerved but stayed on the road, frozen to the wheel in horror.  

    It was 4 miles before I could shake off my disbelief and double back, by which time the cops and parameds were there, scraping what remained of the guy off the shoulder while his buddy looked on in a daze.

    The brown thing was a cow that wandered onto the freeway.  One of the bikers had hit it at ~110, no chance to avoid.  But for a few seconds' difference in timing, it could've been me.  

    Stayed with me, that did.

    Good diary.

    Export democracy: Draft a Republican.

    by turbonium on Sun May 25, 2008 at 03:22:45 AM PDT

  •  Not again (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    The Baculum King

    Yer a moron.  

    Yer probably the asshat I saw driving through elk grove on 99 in the left lane (the carpool lane) today at 70...  because you think the 55 limit in California is a speed trap.  And you are probably the asshat I saw nearly loose his ass on 99 because you are one of the gazillion truck drivers that don't seem to get the fact that 99 is the 2nd busiest highway in the country... and in that insanely short distance that you can't slow your stupid ass down in, that 3 lanes goes to 7 lanes of STOPPED traffic.

    You are probably one of the ass hats that likes to drive through Madera, at 56 mph to pass another truck driving 55, backing shit all the way up to the river in Fresno, because you think its your god given right to get in my freakin way (even though the speed limit is 70 for me).

    You are lecturing people here in your post about speed but you are the asshat that says trucks shouldn't be driving 55 in cali.  

    NOBODY should listen to anything you have to say about driving.

    You are snotty, arrogant, and outright stupid.

    And I bet my right nut, right here right now, that within the next 10 years, I will read about you having CAUSED a fatal accident, most likely here in cali or nevada where people like you don't understand that "rural" areas are more heavily populated than most states in the country.  The simple fact that you think that the truck speed limit here shouldn't be 55 is enough evidence for me that you just don't freakin get it.

    And that fact that you don't get it means that nobody on here should listen to a word you say.  You are a freaking moron.  Probably the moron driving 56 in the left lane between madera and fresno, causing a traffic jam big enough to see from space.

    "Slower Traffic Keep Right" here means YOU.  It means, trucks ... don't pass other trucks on 99... even at 4am...  and if you read the text of the law... it means that if I wanna drive down the grapevine at 120mph, I LEGALLY have the right of way... get out of my fucking way.

    You need to stop telling people in california how to drive.  I know how to fucking drive, and i've driven more miles than you have (even though I'm probably half your age), dumbass.  You need to spend your time educating yourself and other out of state truck drivers about the traffic laws here, if you want to "educate" anybody.  

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