Today’s Non-Sports Related Rant; Oversized Road Rage
As a younger now self proclaimed “modernized fake truck driver”. Meaning I drive a dedicated route Monday through Friday and am home every night. There are several things I need to get off my chest, both to vent and hopefully educate some on proper driving practices and respecting an 80,000 pound truck and truck driver. As I begin it’s becoming quite clear to me that driving through Chicago twice a day may be having some sort of barring on my personal frustrations. Yet I will try to put aside those feelings and allocate legitimate material that will be helpful.
Any of you that know me, know that I’m sometimes egregiously calm, laid back, patient, easy going and easy to get along with. That is one reason why I chose this profession. To be a safe non road raged driver you must utilize all of these attributes constantly and consistently. I have a saying (or reoccurring thought rather) that is no matter how outlandish of an act that someone can do in a car around a semi, that person could be my mother, my sister, brother, girlfriend, niece, anyone in my inner family circle. While also remembering that those people are special and matter to someone as well. This always keeps me safe minded and calm on the roads. That being said, here are a few pet peeves I’ve picked up over the last couple years, and a few things that may help with your road rage and keep you calm and safe around big trucks.
1. I do NOT have my turn signal on for no reason…
Yes, there is the occasional dummy who forgets to turn their turn signal off because ours don’t automatically do so like in your personal vehicle. Yet MOST of the time we have our turn signals on for a very good reason.
We are taught to change lanes as infrequently as possible. Obviously the fewer lane changes for us, or you guys for that matter, equals fewer opportunities for a blind spot lane changing collision. So if we do have our turn signal on trust that it is for a very good reason. Remember we can see a lot further than you and are always looking or obstacles, potential dangers, and thinking ahead to what lane we need to be in so we don’t have to make abrupt lane changes right before an exit. For example we are always looking out for broken down cars and trucks along the side of the road, police and emergency vehicles and workers on the sides of the road, construction zones and workers, slow moving vehicles, etc… Which for all of these instances, I don’t know if you’ve ever been on the side of a highway and a semi blows by, but if you have you know it’s scary and very dangerous, and we need to get over. It is actually a law now I know in Indiana, possibly elsewhere as well, that all vehicles must at the very least slow down if getting over is not possible, but you must and should try.
I can’t even tell you how many times a DAY my turn signal is ignored and it put me and others in a worse (sometimes worse than others) situation that could have been avoided if one of your fellow “four wheelers” wouldn’t have decided where they where going and what they where doing was more important than me and everyone else’s safety. Unless you are already beside the truck or trailer. The worst thing you can do is speed up and try to get around them before they get over. Again not me I try my best to be safe and curtious, but there are some truck drivers out there that live by the “I’m bigger than you” rule. They believe that if they want over and you are not letting them, that they are then coming anyway and you’ll move or regret it… So just don’t do it. Where you are going may be important, but so is where we are going and what we are doing, providing goods and services that you use on a daily basis to everywhere in the country. Meanwhile we are trying to get home safely to our families just as you are.
2. YOU are merging onto the highway, I am NOT merging to you getting on the highway…
This is one I struggle with.. I finally yelled back at a guy the other day, whether he could hear me or not, I did. This after he had cursed me and held his middle finger out the window for two miles going down the road. I feel like something so obvious should not be such of an issue, but because of the staggering amount of people I encounter just like this guy proves otherwise.
Now again, we are taught to change lanes ONLY when absolutely necessary. Even if it is only me on the highway and you merging, this is NOT an acceptable reason for a lane change in a big rig. While I and most do get over for vehicles merging onto the highway when it is safely possible, it is NOT your right for us to do so for you! You have the merge sign and are merging to everyone on the highway, everyone is not merging to you. No matter how precious you really are.
While the above mentioned individual thought that going the same speed and riding to the end of the merge lane right beside my trailer was a good way to merge and was somehow my fault. While I was trying to get over mind you, and just could not in time. I assure you I did not even have to attempt to do so nor was I choosing his speed. While most big trucks have a set governed top speed and ride with the cruise control engaged most of the time. One or two mile an hour faster or slower will easily put you in front of or behind a semi when merging. Oh! But wait.. You couldn’t possibly merge to behind a semi could you my precious?.. 😌
3. Yes I know it’s annoying to us too, but trucks these days are governed and sometimes it takes a minute to get around another truck going slower than you are.
I’m not talking about the guys that get up beside each other going the exact same speed and ride there blowing kisses back and forth to one another for 30 minutes. Not those guys, honk and yell at those guys all you wish, we do too.
Although there are some company trucks that are governed at varying speeds. Some at 55, some at 60, 62, 65, 68, and probably everything in between. Trucking Companies do this for safety, speed limit compliance, and for fuel efficiency reasons.
I know it can be frustrating to sit behind a semi in the fast lane doing 65, passing a truck doing 63. Yet as equally frustrating is for the truck doing 65 to have to continually have to tap his breaks so not to tailgate the slower truck. As well as be able to keep a good pace and continuous speed. In this situation, I will wait and watch for a long enough opening and gap between cars so that I’m not holding anyone up. Or just slightly do so at the most if I know it’s going to take me awhile to get around.
So just know that we are not deliberately holding you up and taking so long to get around another truck just because we want to. Id say 99% of the time that is not the case, not even close.
4. Stop changing lanes and cutting over right in front of a big truck. It’s dangerous, trucks take a lot longer to stop, and it just makes you look ignorant and like you don’t value your life…
5. If there is a sign saying right/left lane closed 2 miles ahead, don’t go another 2 miles before you get over..
This is another situation that just takes a little common sense, and something that I figured would be simple common knowledge, but it is not.
Now into the warmer spring and summer months there are a lot more construction zones popping up on major highways all across the country. These are a necessity and should be respected, yet can also be a burden for all of us. You want to get wherever you are headed without interruption, and so do we. While there are some who earn an hourly wage, most professional drivers are paid by the mile and are loosing money every minute we sit in traffic.
Back to the issue at hand, before every major construction zone there are signs informing you of said zone miles ahead of time. Do not ignore these signs, after all they are put there for a reason. I don’t really get why people can’t understand still, but the reason for ignoring them is to fly up in front of anyone then jump into line right before the lane ends correct? As anyone noticed that once you get to where it is down to one lane after the merge, that you tend to speed up? I’m wondering why this astronomically insane miracle happens??…. BECAUSE everyone that is ignoring the signs that just can’t wait and try to push there way past as many vehicles as possible, ARE the ones slowing everybody down! I’m not a betting man, but if I where I’d bet that over 75% of the time this is why construction zone traffic flow cannot do the posted work zone speed limit all the way through.
As a little side note that you may not know about. If you are ever on the highway not in a construction zone and everyone is slowing down or stopping. Most likely for a crash or some other obstacle ahead. Almost every big truck has a cb radio, we can talk to one another and trucks going the opposite direction can tell us what is going on and what lane to be in to get around the hazard in a safe, effective manner. So if you are in this situation and see most trucks moving to one lane, they aren’t guessing, follow them.
If more people would follow some of these simple practices and be a bit more cautious and use a little more common sense we could all have a lot more enjoyable driving experiences. I hope this helps! Be safe out there!