Keep on Truckin'


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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