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Keep on Truckin’

January 17th, 2014 - 10:35 am

Duel

Glenn Reynolds linked to a helpful winter driving piece by a semi driver up north who deals with a lot of snow. There are some great tips and reminders, including this:

Use Your Signals:

Here’s a trucker’s rule of thumb for lane change: Dry or rainy (not freezing) weather: three blinks, then move over for three blinks. Winter weather: four or five blinks, then move over slowly. Signal for turns before you start slowing down.

If you’re going significantly slower than the traffic around you, turn on your four-way hazards, take the rightmost lane, and just let everyone pass you. The hazards let other drivers know you’re going slower than they are, and this can help prevent a pileup.

Something about this bugged me when I first read it, but it took a while to figure out exactly what. And then yesterday driving along I-25 I got dangerously cut off by an 18-wheeler doing all kinds of stupid things racing north towards Monument Hill — and it clicked.

I remember a time — not long ago, as recently as the late ’90s — when truckers tended to be the most skilled and the most polite and careful drivers on the road. I was road tripping thousands of miles a year in those days, usually along I-70 to St Louis or I-80 (what a drive!) to San Francisco. And you could depend on truckers to signal, to take care, and to always give you a Nice Guy Light Flash when it was safe for you to get back into the right lane. There were exceptions, sure, but generally I felt safer around big rigs than I did around my fellow car drivers.

That’s all changed though in the last decade or so. It’s not that all truckers are mean or stupid or unskilled, but generally speaking they no longer seem to be any nicer or smarter or skilled than a typical driver. Which is to say, not very nice or smart or skilled.

What the hell happened?

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All Comments   (10)
All Comments   (10)
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This is one area where de-regulation might not have worked so well.

At least, so I was told by someone I worked with in the 90s, whose husband was a professional driver. He frequently had choice words for the newbs trying to drive big rigs.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
That is a still picture from the movie "Duel". Which, if you haven't seen it, will not give you confidence in the kindness of truck drivers. Turns out the story was written by Stephen King...
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nope. Author was Richard Matheson. :)

If the name sounds familiar, he also wrote The Shrinking Man, What Dreams May Come, and I Am Legend.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Eight years ago, after a few trips from Colorado to Utah and back (mostly along I-80), I lamented how many people had forgotten (or never learned) the rules of the road that I grew up with: http://andstillipersist.com/2006/07/rules-of-the-open-road/

As I note, the single most important rule is: Keep Right Except to Pass.

As a result, driving on 2x2-lane interstates is a chore, rather than a pleasure. ..bruce..
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
FWIW, in Spain, when a truck driver (delivery van drivers included) puts on his signal, it doesn't mean he intends or wants to change lanes, it means he's changing lanes right NOW and you better damned sure get out of the way.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
The average age of the OTR guys I see seems to be increasing, lotsa folk that retired getting back on the road. But yeah, anymore I just assume that everyone out on the road has as their driving goal in life to take me out.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Driving with hazards on is illegal in Colorado. Just FYI...
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Stupid law. They exist for good reason.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Change in the laws happened. Truckers now are so limited in driving time, and they changed rules on other things most companies are screaming for drivers, any driver with a clean record (and most of those are newbes).
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
This, exactly. New laws put much stricter limits on the amount of hours a driver may spend behind the wheel, and that resulted in the need for more drivers. Hopefully, once these new drivers get some experience, they will be better. But I am afraid not.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
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