A Truck Drivers Perspective!

I am writing this article to help give car and SUV drivers more information about the trucks you share the road with called A Truck Drivers Perspective.

First is a little history on myself.

I am a professional truck driver. I have driven all over the united states. This includes every state except Alaska and Hawaii. I started trucking in 1971 when I turned eighteen. I was allowed to drive a straight truck until I turned twenty-one. When I turned twenty-one, I was transitioned into a tractor trailer.

There was no CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) required in these days. The CDL law was introduced and passed into law in 1986. It established minimum requirements be met to obtain a CDL. 

I quit trucking in late 1979. I started my own brick and mortar business and never thought I would drive a truck again. Never say never. For almost twenty years I didn’t drive truck.

Never Say Never!

In 1998 when my business was slowed because of competition, I decided to start trucking again. I have no formal education so trucking was the next best thing for me. I knew I could get a job. What I didn’t know at the time was you needed truck driving experience within the last year at a minimum.

Because of no recent experience I decided to buy my own truck. This enabled me to bypass the minimum experience needed. I applied and got my CDL permit and then drove a friend’s truck before going for my test. I passed the test and started trucking again. I have been trucking ever since. Trucking is something that gets in your blood. I really loved the feeling of driving and being my own boss.

In 2002 I sold my truck and started working for another trucking company. I drove their truck and had a boss which is good also. The company pays all expenses for the truck and I get a steady pay check.

Truck Drivers Are Held To A Higher Standard!

What most people don’t realize is driving a big rig requires much more know how than driving a car or SUV. A professional truck driver must perform at an extremely high level for safety. Truck drivers are held at a much higher standard then cars and SUV's.

Truck Drivers Are On High Alert!

The truck driver must constantly be on high alert for anything, I mean anything. We must be aware of all surroundings. These include but are not limited to: 

  • Constantly surveying your surroundings
  • Checking mirrors every few seconds
  • Checking all the gauges on the dash for problems or failures
  • Scanning the road 15-20 seconds ahead of where you are headed for incidents
  • Stopped traffic
  • Cars swerving in and out of traffic
  • Cars entering the highway from the on ramp directly in front of a truck
  • Passing on the left then cutting the truck off at exit ramps

Truck Stopping Distance!

When driving a truck at 60-70 mph it takes more time to stop. Therefore, most truck drivers leave a cushion or safe area between us and the vehicle ahead. If a car cuts us off and traffic suddenly stops, we’ve lost our cushion. Think of it this way, you could be the real cushion to help stop the truck. No one wants this to happen. People get hurt and killed and vehicles are usually destroyed.

Stopping distance is first and foremost “Thinking Distance”. This starts from the time you see an incident ahead and start to hit the brakes. It takes a loaded tractor trailer traveling at highway speed up to two lengths of a football field to completely stop. This is in perfect weather conditions. Poor conditions such as rain, sleet or snow is much longer.

To learn more read about: Stopping Distance

Unsafe Truck Drivers!

On the other hand, I see many truck drivers who do not respect the road. I can tell you I have witnessed many unsafe maneuvers from truck drivers also.

Here are a few I can think of;

  • Truck following extremely to close to other vehicles (Especially cars and SUV’s)
  • Entering the on ramp and not yielding
  • Driving in the left lane (Many different vehicles are guilty of this)
  • Cutting off another vehicle to get in the passing lane
  • Not using turn signals

Both lists could go on and on, but you get the idea.

A Drivers Atitude!

I think one of the biggest problems with many drivers of any vehicle, big or small is their attitude. All drivers need to keep a cool head. Remember, YOU are in control of your attitude.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all think more like the verses or phrases below? The second one is my favorite.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”
Whatever is hurtful to youdo not do to any other person”

Did You Know!

As the driver of a car or SUV you may not realize some of these things.

Did you know;

  • The BAC (blood alcohol content) for a licensed CDL holder is 0.04%. It does not matter if your state limit is higher. You are held at the CDL limit. If you as a CDL holder are caught in your personal vehicle it is still 0.04%. You also lose your CDL for 5 years and if you get caught twice you lose your CDL for life. Read: Drug and Alcohol Testing
  • If a CDL holder is caught using a cell phone it can be a fine up to $2,750. Whoever owns the truck can be fined up to $11,000. CDL holders must use a hands-free system.          Read: Mobile Phone Restrictions

Blind Spots!

Blind spots are in many areas of a truck. Spotting vehicles around the truck requires precision on the driver’s part. We look in the mirror and see nothing but there may be a vehicle directly beside us. It is easier said then done to move into another lane quickly for merging traffic. By the time we determine if it is safe to move over, we are on top of the merge.

The "Yield" Sign!

The “Yield” sign is a common problem with many drivers of any vehicle. The sign does not mean or read “GO” as many seem to think it does. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The description of “Yield” as referenced on Wikipedia.com

"In road transport, a yield or give way sign indicates that each driver must prepare to stop if necessary to let a driver on another approach proceed. A driver who stops or slows down to let another vehicle through has yielded the right of way to that vehicle. In contrast, a stop sign requires each driver to stop completely before proceeding, whether or not other traffic is present. Particular regulations regarding appearance, installation, and compliance with the signs vary by jurisdiction."

This is just a small fraction of what could be written. I just wanted to make a few points as a Professional Truck Driver to help educate the uninformed driver.

If you have any questions about this article or about the author Steve McKenzie please email me at profithere@hotmail.com. I will respond within 24 hours.

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