Trailer In The Ditch

Topic 23996 | Page 1

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Big T's Comment
member avatar

I will apologize ahead of time for the smoothness of this writing. I haven't got much quality sleep in the last week. That and we can't all be Rainys.

As some of you are aware a few days ago I got the unpleasant wake up call of my student putting our trailer in a ditch. This was a completely preventable incident. I am going to break this down to the different mistakes that were made in hopes that some may learn from his mistakes and not wind up in the same situation.

Wrong Turn

The first mistake he made was making a wrong turn. He was traveling east on US 35 and shortly before the West Virginia state line the highway curves to the right with an exit to the left.

He wasn't paying attention to the signs and continued onto the exit because the Qualcomm didn't tell him to turn right. This kind of thing happens all the time out here, but how you handle it makes the difference between a simple mistake and a preventable accident.

Another Wrong Turn

The student then made a turn into a road that was posted no trucks. He didn't see the sign for no trucks.

Do you see a pattern?

Final Mistake

He then attempted to turn into a road that was barely wider than the truck with ditches on both sides. As he made the turn the tandems slid into the ditch in the right side of the truck. Thankfully the landing gear caught the asphalt preventing the truck from rolling over.

I'll post more in the morning about what he should have done.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.
RealDiehl's Comment
member avatar

Yep, a wrong turn can mess you up pretty badly. Especially if you find yourself on a truck restricted road.

3/24/18 Yerington, NV

I took a wrong turn and ended up on a road that had a posted sign, "no through trucks". I panicked and tried to turn around in the first dirt lot I saw. Little did I know there was a road about 100 yards ahead that I could have turned on and gotten myself back to the road I was supposed to be on. Instead I turned around in the dirt. I made the turn-around without a problem but, the dirt at the edge of the road was too soft. I was able to get my steer tires on the road but my drives got bogged down in the soft dirt. In retrospect I should have stopped and taken a look at google maps. I would have seen my way out and avoided getting stuck. Instead I had to make the call of shame to the folks in "breakdown" in order to get a tow.

0132214001544176302.jpg

Old School's Comment
member avatar

I love how you laid out what happened Big T. It's so important that we understand how to pay attention to the signs and also to already know our route before we leave. Plugging an address into the GPS, and then just taking off without a clue of how to get to our destination will always come back and bite us. When on the road, it's imperative that we are constant and vigilant about paying attention. This is part of why a truck driver experiences fatigue. There is considerable work going on inside a drivers brain during his long days.

Don't You Dare Miss That Sign!

Steve L.'s Comment
member avatar

The first thing the classroom instructor asked at truck driving school was; what did the lighted sign say on the way in here? From that point on, reading signs became a top priority.

Doug C.'s Comment
member avatar

How far in the training process was the student when this occurred?

Big T's Comment
member avatar

Several things went wrong in this situation obviously.

First was not knowing the route well enough. As Old School mentioned, you cannot just plug and go. Look through the steps in the GPS, verify with an actual atlas, and any other tool at your disposal.

Second was not reading the signs. You have to be aware of your situation at all times. What was that clearance? Is there a truck speed limit? What was the weight limit for that bridge? Etc.

Third is he should have pulled over and woke me up. The entire point of being with a trainer is to benefit from having an experienced driver with you.

Fourth thing is he should have looked at the map to figure out the best solution. Had he done that he would have seen that there was a truck route a mile down that would have taken him back to US35.

Finally, before turning onto a road barely wider than the truck, he could have called the local police department for assistance. They would much rather help out than clean up an accident seen.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Big T's Comment
member avatar

145 hours completed of a 200 hour program.

How far in the training process was the student when this occurred?

Grumpy Old Man's Comment
member avatar

Several things went wrong in this situation obviously.

First was not knowing the route well enough. As Old School mentioned, you cannot just plug and go. Look through the steps in the GPS, verify with an actual atlas, and any other tool at your disposal.

Second was not reading the signs. You have to be aware of your situation at all times. What was that clearance? Is there a truck speed limit? What was the weight limit for that bridge? Etc.

Third is he should have pulled over and woke me up. The entire point of being with a trainer is to benefit from having an experienced driver with you.

Fourth thing is he should have looked at the map to figure out the best solution. Had he done that he would have seen that there was a truck route a mile down that would have taken him back to US35.

Finally, before turning onto a road barely wider than the truck, he could have called the local police department for assistance. They would much rather help out than clean up an accident seen.

I think I have a visual aid

0485545001544191134.jpg

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Big T's Comment
member avatar

You're on top of it Grumpy. I'll post some shortly. Trying to edit off my phone has been a slow go. My regular camera tried to commit suicide at a truckstop while I was working on a trucking related project. So I'm stuck with just my phone until I get my camera back from the shop.

double-quotes-start.png

Several things went wrong in this situation obviously.

First was not knowing the route well enough. As Old School mentioned, you cannot just plug and go. Look through the steps in the GPS, verify with an actual atlas, and any other tool at your disposal.

Second was not reading the signs. You have to be aware of your situation at all times. What was that clearance? Is there a truck speed limit? What was the weight limit for that bridge? Etc.

Third is he should have pulled over and woke me up. The entire point of being with a trainer is to benefit from having an experienced driver with you.

Fourth thing is he should have looked at the map to figure out the best solution. Had he done that he would have seen that there was a truck route a mile down that would have taken him back to US35.

Finally, before turning onto a road barely wider than the truck, he could have called the local police department for assistance. They would much rather help out than clean up an accident seen.

double-quotes-end.png

I think I have a visual aid

0485545001544191134.jpg

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Big T's Comment
member avatar

Overview of area

0114551001544191741.jpg

Closer up of area

0637410001544191800.jpg

Trailer back end

0518124001544191867.jpg

Left side

0297034001544191947.jpg

Right side

0718909001544192031.jpg

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