That truck driver you flipped off? Let me tell you his story.

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That truck driver you flipped off? Let me tell you his story.

Post by TexasBlue on Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:15 pm

That truck driver you flipped off? Let me tell you his story.

Dan Hanson
Minneapolis Star Tribune
August 3, 2011


Let me tell you a little about the truck driver you just flipped off because he was passing another truck, and you had to cancel the cruise control and slow down until he completed the pass and moved back over.

His truck is governed to 68 miles an hour, because the company he leases it from believes it keeps him and the public and the equipment safer.

The truck he passed was probably running under 65 mph to conserve fuel. You see, the best these trucks do for fuel economy is about 8 miles per gallon. With fuel at almost $4 per gallon -- well, you do the math. And, yes, that driver pays for his own fuel.

He needs to be 1,014 miles from where he loaded in two days. And he can't fudge his federally mandated driver log, because he no longer does it on paper; he is logged electronically.

He can drive 11 hours in a 14-hour period; then he must take a 10-hour break. And considering that the shipper where he loaded held him up for five hours because it is understaffed, he now needs to run without stopping for lunch and dinner breaks.

If he misses his delivery appointment, he will be rescheduled for the next day, because the receiver has booked its docks solid (and has cut staff to a minimum). That means the driver sits, losing 500-plus miles for the week.

Which means his profit will be cut, and he will take less money home to his family. Most of these guys are gone 10 days, and home for a day and a half, and take home an average of $500 a week if everything goes well.

You can't tell by looking at him, but two hours ago he took a call informing him that his only sister was involved in a car accident, and though everything possible was done to save her, she died. They had flown her to a trauma hospital in Detroit, but it was too late.

He hadn't seen her since last Christmas, but they talked on the phone every week. The load he is pulling is going to Atlanta, and he will probably not be able to get to the funeral.

His dispatcher will do everything possible to get him there, but the chances are slim. So he has hardly noticed your displeasure at having to slow down for him. It's not that he doesn't care; he's just numb.

Everything you buy at the store and everything you order online moves by truck. Planes and trains can't get it to your house or grocery store. We are dependent on trucks to move product from the airport and the rail yards to the stores and our homes.

Every day, experienced and qualified drivers give it up because the government, the traffic and the greedy companies involved in trucking have drained their enthusiasm for this life.

They take a job at a factory if they can find it, and are replaced by an inexperienced youngster dreaming of the open road. This inexperience leads to late deliveries, causing shortages and higher prices at the store, and crashes that lead to unnecessary deaths.

It is even possible that is what led to the death of this driver's sister.

This is a true story; it happened last week. The driver's name is Harold, and I am his dispatcher.

Dan Hanson, of Belle Plaine, Minn., is a fleet manager.
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Re: That truck driver you flipped off? Let me tell you his story.

Post by dblboggie on Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:11 pm

Believe me, I feel that drivers pain. I know what truck drivers go through. I have two brothers that drove trucks for years, one for decades. I've ridden with him. I know the kind of crap they have to put up with.

I have nothing but respect for truck drivers. It's a largely thankless job and the government doesn't make it any easier.
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Re: That truck driver you flipped off? Let me tell you his story.

Post by TexasBlue on Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:54 pm

Star Tribune Letter to the Editor

Dan Hanson's commentary about the truck driver trying to get home to see his family was moving, but the truth is that there are far more everyday annoyances that make a truck driver's life, and our roads, unpleasant and unsafe ("Some food for thought for impatient drivers everywhere," Aug. 3).

I have been driving a truck for about five years, and from the looks of it, most of you car drivers are focused only about 20 feet down the road. The best thing you can do to stay safe is to give yourself a lot of room, don't tailgate, and keep your eyes further down the road so you can better anticipate potential hazards.

Yeah, we know that everyone thinks they're a good driver. That fact won't do you any good though when someone else does something stupid and you've left yourself a millisecond to react.

Do you know how long it takes an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer traveling at 62 miles per hour to stop? Actually, I'm not sure, either, so don't pull directly in front of us and immediately slow down, OK?

While we're at it, don't start to pass us, then hang out by our trailer wheels for miles. We can't always see well there.

Learn how to merge onto a freeway. Find a spot to get in, increase your speed accordingly, and get in. Big trucks can't always get over for you. Don't expect them to.

Oh, and get off the phone!

KEVIN MCKAGUE, DAVISON, MICH.
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Re: That truck driver you flipped off? Let me tell you his story.

Post by dblboggie on Mon Aug 08, 2011 9:27 pm

Snicker

Man! Don't even get me started on people merging onto a freeway! I did a whole speech on that once!

It drives me NUTS that people actually slow down on an ACCELERATION ramp! You are supposed to SPEED UP for crying out loud!!! Not slow down!!!

I just HAVE to write that book on driving pet peeves!
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Re: That truck driver you flipped off? Let me tell you his story.

Post by TexasBlue on Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:12 am

That was one thing that pissed me off back when I was trucking. I didn't relent to those people. I figured that if they were going to get on the freeway at 45 mph or slow down while entering, then I wasn't going to move for them.


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“I’m not in favor of fairness. I’m in favor of freedom, and freedom is not fairness. Fairness means somebody has to decide what’s fair.” - Milton Friedman
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Re: That truck driver you flipped off? Let me tell you his story.

Post by dblboggie on Tue Aug 09, 2011 8:53 pm

TexasBlue wrote:That was one thing that pissed me off back when I was trucking. I didn't relent to those people. I figured that if they were going to get on the freeway at 45 mph or slow down while entering, then I wasn't going to move for them.

Good for you! Thumbs Up

Screw'em if they can't display even a modicum of competence at driving.
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