Sobering 15 Seconds Saturday

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Justin B.'s Comment
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I'm just gonna go off my thread on the old forum. For those who didn't see it, it's just kind of a blog, entry style account of my time in school so others can read about it, get some insight.

Well, Friday was a good day. Started alley docking and I loved it. I love the idea of being able to point to a tractor trailer and saying "I can move that suckered anywhere" so I'm working really hard on the foundation of how to get from facing it at 12 o clock to 3 o clock into a dock. And then some driving in traffic. Ive already covered this day I just realized so I'll jump into the meaning of my title.

Saturday, we drove into Commerce City, right next to Sapp Bros and practiced turns and corners (really improved on that level) but I volunteered to drive back. I was in a left turning lane to get onto interstate 270. First of all, that light was QUICK but, no excuse... I'm also a little slow on my take off with the clutch (any advice? haha) but I was in the middle of the intersection by the time light turned green for everyone else. I had my tractor about to to clear it when a green Jeep Commander is coming at me at at least 30 miles an hour. This would be the slowest 15 seconds I've ever experienced. I saw her, she hadn't seen us yet. I didn't know what to do. I think I stopped or slowed down significantly, and she finally saw us and hit her brakes (thank baby Jesus for her good conditioned brakes) I was told by my shaking passengers she came within a couple feet of drilling my fuel tanks. I was freaked, and guess what, I still had about thirty miles of interstate to drive. At the end of the day, no vehicle collided and my future career was still alive.

Sobering lesson: Look the f*** out for everything! The asterisked bad word is necessary, if you ask me. It's a hard core lesson I learned, guys. If you think you're looking enough, look some more. You're not only driving for the company and yourself, but you HAVE to compensate for everybody else's (excuse the negativity) stupidity, laziness and selfishness. This is what I have concluded. In front of me were four lanes. Three were packed but the fourth was empty. Why? It became a turning lane after that light. Well, this lady, seeing the fresh green light, decided to beat the other traffic that properly prepared and merged already. It was my fault for being slow, but that's my point. I should have seen her and done everything I could to adapt and speed up. However, I am a student nonetheless. I am having issues with my clutch, but I also learned a lesson as a four-wheeler, be safe, observant and patient. Besides, how hard is a 13.5 foot tractor trailer to see in the middle of an intersection?

Anyways, no matter what, everything would have been my fault. MY career would have been gone and she would have gotten a new car... For being impatient and trying to cut the other cars off when her lane became a turning lane. Cover your butt, students. It's your safety, other drivers, and your career and maybe even your livelihood. And when a close call happens, shake it off and keep trucking.

Thanks guys! I'm enjoying my day off and test in three days. See you tomorrow!

Oh yeah, this lady had a blue heeler in the passenger seat that was in the floor board by the end of it... Poor puppy saw us, but she didn't (nobody saw how she was distracted).

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
David's Comment
member avatar

I can tell ya, you will find 4-wheels that dont see a big 75ft semi....... this was a good lesson for you to learn, and it happened with no one getting hurt.. Kuddo's for that...

when it comes to starting out at a stop light/sign, I'll use 2nd gear, unless MT. then i'll do 3rd. Anything higher and you could stall... I was taught in school to let off on the clutch first, then apply gas.. It helped me when I had that issue..

and again, 4-wheelers will do STUPID stuff.. They think because they can go faster quicker, the rule the road. as you said, you have to watch everything..

Just the other day, I was going through Idaho.. Had a 4 wheeler in my lane ahead of me, and 2 in the left lane.. the first car in the front lane passed the guy in front of me, and then lost control... How the hell are we as drivers suppose to know this crap will happen? by being alert and prepared.. Not to mention, Ice/slush/wet ground = slippery mess. But still, the 3 of us missed him, he missed us, and I pulled over to check to make sure he was okay (he did a 360 and hit a guard rail on a bridge... if it wasn't for that, He would have went over...baddddd joo joo)...... The boy scouts have a saying, and I use it all the time........ BE PREPARED!! for EVERYTHING!!!!

Brett Aquila's Comment
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You're not only driving for the company and yourself, but you HAVE to compensate for everybody else's (excuse the negativity) stupidity, laziness and selfishness.

...and their inattentiveness. It's very hard to be aware of everything around you all the time. As professionals we're trained to be attentive and we focus on getting better at it every day. The average driver never gives it a thought. To them, driving is just something that's keeping them from doing whatever it is they're about to do and they want to hurry up and get it over with as quickly as possible.

The boy scouts have a saying, and I use it all the time........ BE PREPARED!! for EVERYTHING!!!!

That's exactly right. After just a short time on the road...even a few months...you'll come to the realization that the only way you have a chance at driving a truck safely over a period of months and years is to assume that every other vehicle on the road is about to do the dumbest thing imaginable. I always drove that way.

I assumed nobody could see me. I assumed everyone was distracted. I assumed every vehicle I could see was about to cut me off, pull out in front of me, slam on their brakes, jump on the gas, or do something that would likely be highly dangerous, unpredictable, and illogical...and I planned my escapes accordingly.

What you'll find by driving that way is there will be situations you're in sometimes where you'll realize, "Wow, if that car pulls out in front of me I'll have nowhere to go" or "If that pickup truck were to cross the center line coming toward me there's no shoulder for me to steer onto" and things like that. You'll quickly find scenarios that leave you completely vulnerable unless you take action right now to put yourself in a better position. And you should. Because there's a better chance than you may think at the time of that driver doing exactly that.

I can't even begin to count how many times the practice of "paranoid driving" saved me from a wreck. Especially during times I was able to recognize that I was about to be in a dangerous situation without any way of escaping and made a correction just before the crazy driver did exactly what I feared he might. It happened a lot.

Always assume everyone around you is about to do the most dangerous thing imaginable and prepare yourself for it. It's a critical survival tactic out there.

Roadkill (aka:Guy DeCou)'s Comment
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In Law Enforcement you are taught to always have "Situational Awareness"..meaning, you keep your head on a swivel and take in EVERYTHING..and try and anticipate what's going to happen before it does. When I was a Field Training Officer, I would drive around with rookies and quiz them.."what was the license # of the car that just passed us?" "What color shirt was that guy wearing?", "what did that sign say that we just crossed?", etc..When we would first start, their question was always the same,"How the heck am I supposed to see and remember all that?" After a couple of weeks, it would become second nature. It's the same with other cars. As Brett said, you have to look at the other drivers and think to yourself, "what's the stupidest thing they could possibly do and what would my reaction be if they did it."

Mousemaker's Comment
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I commute to my current job on a motorcycle and constantly have to watch cars and assume they don't see me. Riding in the HOV lane, passing a line of cars backed up in the regular lane, I have to watch for an impatient driver to suddenly dart into my lane without signalling. I don't know how many times someone has made a left turn from the right lane in front of me. That happened in an rain storm once and I wiped out and slid the bike under the drivers door. Thanks for letting me know that thing won't change when driving a big rig. Except that my legs will be more protected in the truck.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Thanks for letting me know that thing won't change when driving a big rig

No, they sure won't as far as defensive driving is concerned. Once you get behind the wheel of a rig and get out on the highway doing it, one of the first things you're going to wonder is

Do I have a sign on the front of this truck in small lettering that says "Pull out now if you can read this!!!!!!!!!"

shocked.png I swear to God it seems that way. Almost every four-wheeler in America sees a truck coming and nothing else matters except doing whatever it takes to keep from being behind that truck. Risk your life, risk the lives of others - doesn't matter. They drive as if they would rather die than be behind you, and sometimes they do. People will pull directly out in front of you about 20 times a day as if they're trying to commit suicide. Even after 15 years on the road it was something that was always appalling to me, and of course quite predictable.

Justin B.'s Comment
member avatar

It seems to be amplified when they see that big lettering "Student Drivers". My instructor today said something along the lines of, if something bad happens, it's gonna happen to Justin. Monday was a similar day to any other. Because of the snow, the morning was all pretrip studying and the afternoon was driving in Brighton again because it cleared up pretty good.

Today was pretty nice and smooth. My issue seems to be still clutch control. We drove east of Commerce City, much of nothing, a few suburbs an but I still stalled twice. Learned that the left turn lights are my nemesis, considering my issues with the clutch, I try to be slower, but that simply won't do with the left lights. But I'm feeling otherwise confident. I mean, we have all been driving for short of a week because of the weather. I've been going hard on myself since the incident Saturday but I've finally let loose and forgot about it (not the lesson) but because that's just what I have to learn to so in this career.

I test Friday morning, but I do have to go to the DMV Thursday to remove my K restriction because tomorrow I finally turn 21. That's all I have really for today, sort of a mellow day, thanks for reading!

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.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

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.

Justin B.'s Comment
member avatar

I forgot to add why my instructor said that. It sounds kind of negative in the wrong context, but today, fate had its way with testing me. Two that pops out were a really tight turn the other students were lucky enough to get without a car in the lane and this Mustang cut me off just to slow down and turn right 50 yards ahead and even slowed me down!

Starcar's Comment
member avatar

Unfortunately, you will never run out of "close calls". They are as regular as pit stops when you drive truck. Your only advantage is that you can learn to read the other driver. NEVER believe a turn signal. NEVER assume they can see you. NEVER put youself in a position that you can't get out of. And I'm sure the other drivers on this site can add to my NEVER list..lol. Just drive like your family is in the other car.....thats how to make sure you don't get in a jam. Stay safe and sane....and enjoy your adventure.

David's Comment
member avatar

Unfortunately, you will never run out of "close calls". They are as regular as pit stops when you drive truck. Your only advantage is that you can learn to read the other driver. NEVER believe a turn signal. NEVER assume they can see you. NEVER put youself in a position that you can't get out of. And I'm sure the other drivers on this site can add to my NEVER list..lol. Just drive like your family is in the other car.....thats how to make sure you don't get in a jam. Stay safe and sane....and enjoy your adventure.

NEVER get in a race with a car that's getting on the hwy..you won't win. lol

I've come to realize something as a Pro. driver... NEVER TRUST ANOTHER DRIVER!... plain an simple. 4wheelers do some STUPID crap. bob in and out of traffic, run you off the road, roll down the shoulder/median... It never dawns them that you can't stop immediately. That's one reason why following distance is so important. Im still trying to understand why some people will pass me, get over in my lane, have 4-5 miles of open road, and hit their brakes for no reason... WTF?

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it" - Agent K, MIB

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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