Intimidation By Other Drivers

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6 string rhythm's Comment
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I really enjoyed an article written on this website by Trucker Mike. A Driver Trainer's Perspective: Some Helpful Tips And Observations For Student Drivers.

Part of the article talks about how other drivers can affect your state of mind. He calls it intimidation. This is a sort of road bullying that affects every driver - not just truck drivers. How many times have you sped up because somebody tailgated you? How many times have you purposefully slowed down, JUST BECAUSE somebody was tailgating you? I don't want my decisions on the road to be merely emotional reactions to other ignorant drivers. That would be letting them 'rent space in my head.'

Since I've made the commitment to become a truck driver, I've made a conscious effort to protect my license. I've also been actively training myself to not be emotionally affected by other drivers. Call it stress management. It's been gradual, but I'm certainly improving. Funny thing is that I'm a very independent thinker, am not intimidated by others, and have no problem speaking my mind. But... it wasn't until I started trying to prepare myself mentally for a trucking career, that I realized I was affected by other drivers - in a negative way. Even if I didn't speed up for a tailgater, it still gave me a little twinge of anxiety in my gut.

My goal is to be even keel. I don't want to respond emotionally in a manner that would compromise driving in a safe, professional manner. Easier said than done. Which is why I've been practicing this for months. I know it will be a different experience in a big truck, but hopefully this mental training will pay off.

Daniel B.'s Comment
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You make good points. And your mental preparation will pay off!

But from what I experienced, it's really not that bad out here. I mean, you eventually get the occasional FedEx driver recklessly driving and tailgating you but they'll pass you easily the moment they get the chance.

You do often have cars tailgating you but it's usually because they need to use the exit that's in front of you. But they do sometimes tailgate outside of that situation. What I do is, I don't slow down, but I flash my brake lights at them so signify that I'm slowing down when I'm really not. More often than not they'll move over and pass you.

I drive 57 mph max, I'm the king of being tailgated. But it's honestly not as bad as you may think in my opinion. You get the occasional ass but it's only temporary. They understand you're a truck and can't be driving like them so they pass you quickly. I've never had road rage because of a tailgater. And usually, when they're that close to your trailer you can't even see them anyways. Because the spot directly behind your trailer is a blind spot. Just don't slam on your brakes, but don't change your driving behavior for them.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Wine Taster's Comment
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Ummmm, well going strictly off of what is in the book. You SHOULD slow down if someone tailgates you. The way it is worded... you should increase your following distance when someone is tailgating you. I think the intention is for you to avoid a hard stop so that the person behind you does not run under you. The Roehl way is a bit different from other driving programs. They tell you to expect the expected. Meaning we are professionals and have to expect others to not be. We have to take actions to protect others from themselves. As for flashing the brake lights, the CDL manual says to not do that.

Now, take all of this into consideration, I am very new to driving a big truck so I only have what has be taught to me to go off of. However, I was a Paramedic for 20+ years before this career change. I learned to anticipate other drivers. I knew what they would do before they did it. My partner at work was really young when he first started. I used to tell him all the time, "Do not let other peoples actions affect your safe driving ability." If they cut you off and then go 10 MPH then just slow down and leave enough following distance. You have to always remember that the only person you can control is YOU.

It is hard to change the mindset of being in a car to being in a truck. You must change your old habits to become a better driver.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Bill, you're probably on the most important mission that anyone, not just drivers, could ever undertake - controlling your mind and remaining unaffected by the world around you. The worst decisions we make are emotional decisions.

You're a thinker so I'm sure you've studied up on some Buddhism along the way. I've read a lot of Buddhism over the years and I've consciously practiced controlling my thoughts every day of my adult life. It's not something you can ever dream of "conquering". It's only something you can hope to control....most of the time.

One time I had a piece of the rubber seal come loose from my little window on the driver's side and it started flapping against the window while I drove. I purposely kept that there for months that way because I wanted to make sure I was able to maintain a calm, relaxed mind in spite of something that would drive many people into a screaming rage or nervous breakdown at some point.

No matter how long you practice, no matter how good you become, you'll still do an embarrassingly poor job of it sometimes and you'll be ashamed that you've had to reel yourself back in yet again! I guess in that way it's like driving. No matter how great you are at it you still have to constantly make small corrections as you go down the road and sometimes you'll do an embarrassingly poor job of it. But you reel yourself back in and continue on as best you know how.

I always say, "To the extent you control your mind you control your life." If you can maintain your peace of mind through any and all circumstances then you've conquered your greatest enemy. The rest of life's challenges become much easier.

smile.gif

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

6 string rhythm's Comment
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Brett, I enjoyed your anecdote about the flapping piece of rubber :) And yes, I've read some Buddhist texts. I dusted off my copy of the Dhammapada to quote these passages that have always stuck w/ me:

"By one's self the evil is done; by one's self one suffers. By one's self evil is left undone..."

And, at the very beginning of the Buddhist text:

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought.... If one speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows one..."

Echoing what Wine Taster said above, the only one we can control is ourselves. That is a glaring truth, especially for me on days when my toddler refuses to take a nap! It seems that with consistent practice (I actually call it obedience), I can walk in that realm of self-control much more consistently and effortlessly. But sometimes out of nowhere I seem to automatically react and lose self-control. Of course that doesn't mean I'm not responsible for my own actions. And usually I can reign myself back in. I agree that we will never truly master ourselves. Nobody is perfect and without blemish, even my precious little daughter.

Of course, I believe that it takes more than the exertion of one's mind and repetition of restraint. A knucklehead like myself needs a "little" supernatural help. Thank God I can exhibit the Fruits of the Spirit by my faith and obedience. And thank God that He has grace for when I fail miserably ;) Because I need a whole lot of help on a regular basis, it also helps me be more forgiving for that yuppie that tailgates me in his BMW, only to whiz around me and pass over a double, yellow line ... right before a blind spot with a hill! And he had his family in the car with him!!!

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Jopa's Comment
member avatar

Bill,

My goal is to be even keel. I don't want to respond emotionally in a manner that would compromise driving in a safe, professional manner. Easier said than done. Which is why I've been practicing this for months. I know it will be a different experience in a big truck, but hopefully this mental training will pay off.

What a great idea that I would never of thought of myself. In the old days (well, not so long ago, maybe 8 years) I had my appraisal business and I was ALWAYS in a hurry. 80-85 MPH all over the state of California with one eye on the road and one eye on the rear view and side mirrors, looking for that red light. I saw that red light a few times and paid big fines for my efforts. What did I save in time? Not much. Certainly not enough to make it worth while. Point being, since then I make it a point of going the speed limit and NOT A MILE FASTER. Which means drivers constantly come up from behind (especially on a two lane road) and run up on your tail like you are supposed to get the hell out of their way or something. Nothing makes me as angry as that. (At least while driving, I mean).

So, following your example, I shall practice the exact opposite. I think you hit the nail on the head here. Practice makes perfect and since it is going to be a stressful job already, no use in adding to the stress by getting upset over something you can't control in the first place.

Quick note: In the Bible it says two things that apply here (it probably say much more but I'm only going to mention two). The first is for us NOT to judge others because we will then be judged using the same criteria. How true that is when I get totally peeved at someone only to turn around later and do the very same thing to someone else. Second, God said that vengeance is His and He will repay. Even the smallest act of vengeance (doesn't have to be a shotgun, you know) is disobeying His edict and taking both judgement and justice into our own hands. Big no no. We ain't qualified. So, as usual, the designer is telling His creation how we work best since He designed us. No anger, frustration or action when we don't have the right in the first place means a lot less stress. Oh, one more thing the Bible, and specifically Jesus said: "Be anxious for nothing." Nothing is pretty much all inclusive, isn't it?

Jopa

smile.gifsmile.gif

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Dan J.'s Comment
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Good words all around Men !!

Jim M.'s Comment
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Indeed... Amen!

guyjax(Guy Hodges)'s Comment
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Check out the link. It was a video I made about 4 to 5 years ago when I first started recording video in my truck. Watch the vid to the end. Worth it. Its not very long. This type of "Intimidation" or stupidity is what we deal with and there is really no way to prepare for it except for accepting the fact that everyone WILL cut you off and create a dangerous situation that way when it does not happen at least your day will look better.

Mental preparation is key.

The Things Truck Drivers Must Deal With

This video shows how people will tailgate you, cut you off, and all sorts of crazy stuff.
Wine Taster's Comment
member avatar

When I was doing my road test for the DMV , the tester said, "When it is safe and legal to do so, make a lane change to the left and then back to the right." It was in a busy downtown area. So, I signaled and made the lane change to the left between intersections. This car flies out from a side road on the right as I make the lane change. They fly past me. Cut right in front of me with barely inches between the bumper. Then they turn on their left turn signal and slam on the brakes to make the left turn at the intersection. I had to slam the brakes and barely was able to stop in time. The tester said, " What an idiot!" I was shaking. Luckily, I did not have a crash on my test. ROFL! Then I forgot to flip my gear switch down and stalled the truck because i was trying to take off in 6th gear instead of 3rd. I thought I had failed my test. Guess I did OK because I passed.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

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