Friday, May 21, 2010

Tips for Driving

As you can probably imagine, Ben and I see quite a bit of good driving, bad driving and down-right crazy driving out on the road. Did you read in the last post about the person who passed us on the right shoulder only to then drive over four lanes of traffic to (barely) make it to the left exit? This, unfortunately, is not uncommon. It is also not uncommon for us to see four-wheelers (cars, pick-up trucks, SUV's, etc.) have complete disregard for truck drivers out there. Hence, this post is for anyone with a license and could use a few reminders for safe driving, as well as a few things to know in general about trucks if you do not drive one yourself:

1. Always use your turn signal.

2. When on the interstate, if you are not passing someone, drive in the right-hand lane.

3. Use your cruise-control feature (if available), especially on the interstate. When driving is your livelihood, it can be extremely frustrating to play “leap-frog” with others because they will not keep a steady speed. Please do not make us pass you 3 times or more. It gets old.

4. Never ever tailgate. Especially behind a semi. Keep enough distance between you and the semi that you can see the truck mirrors. If you cannot see our mirrors, we cannot see you.

5. After you pass a semi on the interstate, be sure to leave enough space cushion before you merge back into the lane the semi is traveling in. In some states, if you do not leave enough space, you will get a ticket if caught.

6. Be aware that the distance needed to stop a tractor-trailer is significantly longer than the distance needed to stop a car. For example, if you're driving on a state highway and a truck is behind you (with his/her own proper following distance) and your turn is coming up in ½ mile or so, put your turn signal on at the ½ mark. This gives the trucker ample time to slow down and adjust his speed without having to slam on the brakes.

7. It takes trucks a lot longer to get going from a dead stop than it does a four-wheeler. Our tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Honking your horn will not make us go faster.

8. Trucks need a LOT of space to make turns. Because of this, remember to “keep your distance”.

9. If you see poor driving by a trucker, call it in. I have done this for both truckers and four-wheelers because they posed a very real and dangerous threat to everyone in the nearby vicinity on the roadway. When we all cooperate for safety, everyone wins.

10. Be courteous to truckers and help them change lanes when they signal. This can be done by leaving enough space for the truck/trailer to merge into your lane, as well as flashing your high beams to let them know. Two feet of clearance is hardly detectable from the mirrors of the truck; let there be a few car-lengths of space.

11. Believe it or not, when it comes to merging, it is the vehicle already in transit on the interstate who has the right-of-way, not the merger. Do not expect the truck to get out of the way; it is much safer for the truck to hold his/her lane. Either speed up and get in front of the truck, or be patient and yield. Do not drive on the shoulder with the same speed.

12. Trucks turn over easily. They have a higher center of gravity and therefore need to take curves a lot slower than a four-wheeler.

13. It may be annoying, but be patient with them, and be weary of them. Trucks, by their very size, can hurt you a lot more than you can hurt them.

14. If there is a sudden and strong wind gust, be careful about passing trucks: that can easily push him/her into your lane without the driver being able to do anything about it.

15. In general, when passing, do not "lolly-gag"; we do not like being boxed in.

16. Honking does not do much good; it is not easy to hear what is going on behind the truck.

17. Most trucks are governed. If it looks like two trucks are duking it out with one trying to pass the other, it is because one is going just slightly faster than the other. Most times, the truck getting passed will slow down, but sometimes this show can go on for miles.

18. If a trucker ever looks like he doesn't know where he's going, especially if he's an over-the-road trucker, he probably doesn't. There are many places that truckers have never been and the learning curve is high. It may be annoying to be behind a trucker like this, but it is one of the more stressful parts of the job. Being courteous and patient can go along way for a short fuse.

19. Although it seems that most truckers are safe and courteous, there are some very unsafe truckers out there, and we see that a lot more from our perch up here than you would down in your four-wheeler. There are drivers who will drive distracted; they watch movies, knit, text, etc., all while driving. You name it, they probably have done it while driving. There are drivers who take drugs to stay awake, although this seems to be more of a thing of the past. There are drivers who will keep a false log. There are drivers who will pee in bottles. There are drivers who will drive an entire 11-hour shift without taking a break...basically, not all drivers are good drivers, so be vigilant around trucks.

20. Truckers are people too.

Do you have any other safe-driving tips for four-wheelers or suggestions for truckers? Safety is always our #1 priority and any feedback is welcome.

Present location: Tumwater, WA

Recent visits: brother-and-sister-in-law John & Melissa, our nephew Ben and nieces Maddie & Amelia

Miles so far this week: 3958

Have a great weekend! We are looking forward to returning to Bend next weekend for our hometime! It has been nearly 2.5 months since we've been to our apartment, and it will be a nice break.

God bless,


joew said...

How was I-da-ho???

joew said...

How was I-DA-HOE ??

Ben and Deb said...

Oh Joe...I-da-ho was great, beautiful as always. When's your next trip there?