CONTENT: The following common sense list of hints for staying out of trouble is compiled from Chapter 23 of your Trucking Hand- book. You might want to write these statements on a card and post the card on the control panel of your rig. Leave it there for a few weeks until the things are so much a part of the way you think that they will stay with you for the rest of your life.
You think that would look silly? Don't kid yourself. Company executives and other professionals are always posting important ideas in their offices. Messages to ourselves keep us on our toes and keep us growing. Is your cab any less a sign of your professionalism than an executive's office? Only if you want it to be.
It's just a suggestion. But, if you want to avoid being mouse-trapped on the road, somehow get the following ideas to be a part of the way you think as a driver.
- Always expect the unexpected.
- Pay attention to what you're doing at all times.
- Drive only as fast as road conditions dictate.
- Don't make any assumptions about what another driver is going to do.
- Don't tailgate.
- Know your gear positions.
- Avoid falling into the traps of overconfidence and showing off.
- Be ready to act. Something could go wrong with your rig at any time.
- Plan your moves early. What you see one-quarter mile ahead of you determines what you do right now.
- Be vigilant. Your vigilance and skill can usually offset any bad conditions that might come up.
DO: You might call the statements listed above axioms for truckers. That is, they are sayings for keeping you out of trouble. In the following exercise, you are to write your own axioms for truckers. Each short tale has a moral. Write a moral, or an axiom, for each tale. The first one has been done for you.
- You are following another rig closely at high speed. Traffic is heavy on this four-lane highway. Up ahead, the right lane is closed for repairs, but you are too close to the rig ahead to see the construction work. As the vehicles approach the work area, the rig in front of you moves quickly over to the left lane. You crash right on through the work area.
Axiom: Don't expect another driver to keep you out of trouble.
- Your rig is stopped at a stop sign about to make a left turn onto a four-lane street in the suburbs. After the cross traffic clears, you start out into the intersection and make your left turn. A car is approaching the intersection from the right, but it is 200 feet away. You feel you have time to safely make the turn. After all, the driver will see you and slow down. (You've already been waiting for what seems like an eternity for a break in the traffic.) It takes you 6 seconds to negotiate the turn. Coming out of the turn, you block both lanes. Five seconds into your turn you feel a rather large bump. The car is stuffed under the middle of your trailer.
- You are approaching an elevated road ahead. As you go up the ramp, you notice a sign, "No Trucks Allowed," too late. You can't get off the ramp. About a mile down the road, an officer stops you. She cites you and tells you to take the next off ramp.
- You're rolling down an interstate and start to pass slow traffic. As you begin to pass, you see the off ramp you were supposed to take. Too late. You missed it. You take the next off ramp and wind up in a park. The street becomes narrower and narrower until you hit a turn you can't negotiate. All you can do is back out. You find a phone and call the police for help.
- You're waiting at a signal. As the signal turns green, you decide to make a right turn. You're quite a ways away from the curb to safely make a turn, so you turn on the turn signal and proceed around the corner. About halfway through your turn, you hear a horn. It seems to be coming from beneath your trailer! You stop immediately and check. Sure enough, a car is trapped under your truck. You ask yourself, where did the car come from?
- You're traveling down an interstate. Here comes your off ramp. You start to take it, but change your mind deciding to take the next ramp instead. As you swerve back to your left, you notice that another rig has filled in the space you just left. Wisely you decide that there isn't room for two rigs in the space. You swing back to the right and wipe out the guard rail at the end of the off ramp.
- You're in a city industrial area, approaching a corner that is controlled by a traffic signal. The signal is red as you approach it, so you slow down a little. You are right at the intersection as the light turns green. You step on the throttle and pick up speed. Just as you enter the intersection, a car approaching the corner from your left slams into your left front wheel. You lose your grip on the steering wheel and your rig veers to the right, plowing into a parked car at the curb.
- You've just unhooked from your trailer and picked up an empty trailer. You're going to make a pickup at the rail yard. You check the trailer's tires, hoses, and lights and head for the rail yard. Upon arriving you roll up the rear door and see that the trailer is half full of trash and pallets.
- You've just returned from a run and you are told to respot a trailer in the yard. You tell yourself there's no need to crank up the landing gear all the way just to move around the yard, so you crank it up just enough to clear the pavement. After respotting the trailer, you get out and head for the dispatcher's office to check out. Instead of letting you go for the day, the dispatcher tells you to run over to a warehouse for a couple of crates. You hop in your tractor and head out of the yard. As you drop off the curbing, you hear a grinding, skidding noise and your rig stops as if you'd hit the brakes. Now you remember the rule, always crank up the landing gear all the way.
- You are delivering a loaded 45' trailer, but can't unload until tomorrow morning as the loading dock is full. You decide to drop the trailer in an empty lot rather than pull it back to your company yard. When you arrive in the morning to pick up the trailer, this scene greets you. The nose of the trailer is 2 foot off the ground and the trailer legs are half buried in the dirt.