How to survive interstate driving



This is a guest post by BCtruck and entry for our non-fiction writing contest.

Hi folks, I’m going to give writing an article,another try. While reading the rules for the writing contest I noticed where MD was encouraging people to submit articles, the words “we all have something to offer” struck a chord with me. I spent the largest part of my life driving an 18 wheeler long-haul (over the road). I started in 1977 when i joined the army and ive driven one till just recently,when i decided to hang it up. Consequently, I’ve learned a thing or two about surviving, driving.

The first thing I will do is break the dangers down that we all face while driving. Those are:

  • Weather
  • speed
  • Impatience
  • egos
  • drunk/drugged drivers
  • inattentiveness
  • sudden equipment failure
  • Construction
  • Complacency

First, If you dont mind, I would like to toot my horn just a little in the hopes that i can convey to you, what i think qualifies me to give advice on a subject that is often a matter of life and death.From 1980 until 1990, I drove about 120,000 miles a year for a total of 1.2 million miles.From 1990 until 2010, I drove with my wife sharing the driving duties.In those 20 years my wife and i put over 4 million miles on several different trucks.One truck we put 1.6 million miles on before we sold it. In all those miles I only had a couple of speeding tickets, no accidents or wrecks of any kind,no log book violations. My wife had one speeding ticket (57 in a 55 in littlerock) One incident with a deer in Jackson Mississippi and no logbook violations. I’m proud of my driving record and I’m proud of how well i maintained my equpment.OK,thanks for indulging me.Now lets get after it!

weather:we can’t control it so we have two options. Don’t drive in it,or drive in a fashion that is commensurate to the danger presented by the weather. For instance rain requires less concern than snow, and snow less than ice. However, I’ve been on roads that had been rained on all day and as the sun went down the road surface froze making it not just a possibility, but a likelihood that a skid off would occur. My solution to ice, was never ever drive on it unless it turned to ice while i was driving, and then I drove only long enough to find a safe place to park to wait for warmer temps or salt trucks to work their magic.No destination, no type of freight was so important that i would risk the lives of other folks,my equipment ,or my own life. You can’t drive safe on ice. It can’t be done without risk that is greater than the need.

snow: There are different types of snow. Snow that is wet and heavy is actually fairly easy to drive safely on,provided you use good judgement when choosing a speed and being prepared to adjust that speed as conditions change. Also,planning your lane changes and exits from the highway well in advance and in such a fashion that your need for lane changes doesnt affect the speed or direction of travel of other motorists. Maintaining your own safe speed and planning your moves in advance is equally as important as not forcing others to make sudden changes in lane or speed. snow that is very dry is much easier to lose traction on. My philosophy about snow was, if I can drive without endangering others or my equipment, ill drive. If it was bad enough for chains, I didn’t drive unless it was to cross a mountain pass like Donner, or get to a safe place and wait for conditions to improve. There is an old truckers adage that goes like this,”you can to slow as often as you like,but you can only go to fast once”. I lived by that.

Speed: We all get in a hurry. We all have had things that happened to make us late for appointments. The problem with speed is, no one else knows about, or for that matter really cares what problem you had that made you need to speed, and speeding actually does very little to negate the problems you had that you feel necessitate the need for speed.My advice to those that are in front of an angry late person who wants to go faster than you, is move over and let them go. Passivity on the highway goes a long way in making a problem driver go away and perhaps save you from being a victim of road rage.

I’ll tell a short story about speeders. For the last 11 years of my driving career,my wife and i ran a grueling 6800 mile a week route over and over on the same highways at the same times. We found the same people passing us over and over throughout the day and we almost always ended up at the same stops, at the same time. slow and steady saves fuel,stress, and wins the race.

Impatience: Again, most of us have had things that make us late, but there are people out there that completely fall apart mentally when they are under the stress of facing a boss who will want to know why, or a potential client that will be getting a bad first impression based lateness. I’ve seen first hand, impatience make people do absolutely unbelievable things on the highway. Ive also seen a lot of death caused by impatient folks who made driving decisions based on anger. My advice is the same with angry speeders, move over,  don’t make eye contact. That is a challenge to some people. It’s about arriving in one peace, not about saving face or fighting back.

Egos:All those years of driving taught me one thing that is incontravertible: you can find out anything you ever wanted to know about persons psyche, by watching them drive. There is something about the anonymity of a car and the power of a steering wheel,that brings out people’s truest,most inner character that they might otherwise try to keep hidden. Driving,allows Out of control egos, people who are otherwise constrained by society and its basic need for politeness, to let out their inner demon. these people are to be avoided at all costs and ive actually seen first hand one out of control ego meet another out of control ego, at 80 miles an hour. Its never pretty. Be safe, don’t fall victim to the “by God, I know my rights” mentality. It will get you killed by those who couldn’t care less about your rights,life, or anyone else on the highway.If they don’t care about their own life,they certainly don’t care about yours.

Drunk/drugged drivers: In this modern society, with a pill for everything and alcohol in convenient containers. Drunks and druggies are driving amongst us every mile of any highway we are on. Some of these drugs are prescribed by doctors so people who have mental disorders can function in a society that recognizes immediately if someone “aint quite right”. Unfortunately, these drugs that might help some folks, are easily and often abused and consumed with alcohol. Over the years I developed a keen eye for picking out drivers who were clearly under the influence of something that altered their behavior and judgement. Sudden lane changes for no reason, extreme speed fluctuations.I even noticed that people who drove cars that were in obvious states of disrepair, were more often the ones that would be under the influence of something. I’m not saying having an older, payed for car means you’re a druggy or drunk, but it is one of the things i used to determine the likely hood of impairment and I was correct, more often than wrong. someone who gets on the interstate with broken shocks, cracked windshield and lights not working, are often spending their money on drugs or booze and not car repairs or for that matter ,INSURANCE! Be very wary of them. They have nothing to lose and could not care less about damaging your car or leaving you with enormous hospital bills.

Inattentiveness: If you have a phone, I will call you a liar if you say you’ve never made a call or accepted a call while rolling down the road……. ok ,,,, just me? The fact is, as the world changes, we have to adapt to those changes by being extra alert and vigilant. Texting, talking on the phone, messing with complicated stereos and navigation equipment, takes attention from the most important thing you are doing. I think we’ve all realized this and maybe some of us have even made efforts to try to make ourselves safer from the inattentiveness that goes with technology by looking closely at people in our mirrors and glancing at them when they pass. You can do a lot to enhance your safety, just by recognizing those who aren’t paying attention to their driving and may have a cell phone stuck to their ear. Increase following distance if your behind them, slow down to a point where they just have to pass you,if you are in front of them and don’t be beside them when they realize they are in the left lane and want to turn into the walmart on their right.

Equipment failure: It happens to every machine eventually. Its just the nature of machinery to occasionally fail. For instance, you are driving over a two lane bridge with no emergency lane and suddenly your car stalls. There you are, can’t go forward,rolling backward will make it even worse. What do you do? Fist and foremost is get your family out and in front of your vehicle by a couple hundred feet. Then do what ever it takes to get the attention of cars coming up behind you to recognize that there is a problem (of course you’ve already put your emergency flashers on). When you are certain that folks coming up behind you, see your car is disabled, then you can make repairs or call police to direct traffic until a tow truck gets there.

This reminds me of something that non truckers might not realize. Tires on 18 wheelers are prone to Throwing their caps off, while going down the road. I hated caps and never ever used them. It was quite a bit more expensive, but i alway bought new tires.Sadly ,recapped tires are a fact of life and what you don’t know can kill you. I drive on the highway in my pickup and i never “hangout” near an 18 wheeler. I either pass quickly, or if i cant pass, i wait for traffic to clear beside him and pass only when I can get all the way around him. Those caps coming off will go clean through a windshield and do major damage to a vehicle.

Don’t follow an 18 wheeler any closer than you feel you can react if one comes off. Trucks see a lot of miles everyday and the profit margin is so slim that there are a lot of drivers who choose cash in their pocket over properly maintaining their equipment. It’s just human nature I suppose. There aren’t many who get away with bad maintenance for very long before they are caught by the DOT, but in between those time, a lot can happen. Dont ever be afraid to call the state police and report a truck that has obvious defects that could hurt folks. Other truckers do it, and we all want to be safe on the road.

Construction: Its everywhere! Its everywhere!! You have two types of people whenever you lose a lane or come up on sudden construction. You have those that immediately recognize the need for a decrease in speed and enhanced attentiveness, and you have those who see an easy opening to get ahead of a whole bunch of people who care about others. Don’t fight them. Don’t react to them. let them pass and just keep doing what you know is right. You can’t change the world, its evilness or right a wrong, with your car.

Complacency: When you do something over and over, a part of your brain that manages redundant tasks ,takes over the mundane repetitive act of driving and allows the rest of your brain get up and roam about the cabin. DON’T DO IT!!! Truckers fall prey to the natural way the brain works frequently. When (not if) you find yourself falling victim to complacency, you lose your edge, you attention to what lays around the next bend or a car on the side of the road that just had its hood closed and the driver door shut. Always Always, look as far down the road as your eyes can see and never-never never fall into complacency.

Thanks for reading folks. I think I’ll do an article about staying safe from bipedal predators while on the road at a later date and if its something you might like to hear about. peace love and groovy, BC.

Prizes for this round in our non fiction writing contest include…

  1. First place winner will receive – A $150 gift certificate for Hornady Ammo  courtesy of LuckyGunner, a Wonder Junior Deluxe grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Neads, a one year subscription to the Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable and 1 Case of Survival Cave Food Chicken with 12 14.5 oz. Cans courtesy of LPC Survival.
  2. Second place winner will receive – $100 off of your next order of Fish Antibiotics courtesy of Campingsurvival.com, a Survival Puck  courtesy of SurvivalPuck.com and a SurvivalistBlog.net Coffee Mug courtesy of Horton Design.
  3. Third place winner will receive – a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of TheSurvivalistBlog.net and a copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy of www.doomandbloom.net.

Be sure to read the rules before entering… This contest will end on March 17 2014

Comments

  1. Nebraska Woman says:

    Thanks bc. I was married to a trucker for 16 years, and I can attest to everything you are saying.
    When you stop to think about it, practically everything we use or eat need the services of a trucker, When I drive, I give them every bit of politeness I can. I live in the hills, and I do not hurry to pass a truck because I know the hills are hard to pull, besides the fact that on straightaways the trucks will catch up and you are slowing them down.
    I hate the spray that they throw up, however, and I make sure that my windshield washers are full at all times.
    It never hurts to give trucks the right of way; we will always be much safer that way.

    • Thanks Nebraska woman. Sadly,like our whole country,the pool of humans that the transportation/trucking industry has been pulling from,is the dregs of society now. There are people driving trucks now that have come to this country,from countries that have nothing more than cow paths and dirt roads and speak no English. Some come from countries where life is truly cheap and the thought if hurt,killing,or maiming others is of no concern to them at all. My advice to people now a days is to give trucks a very wide berth because there is simply no way to know who is behind the wheel.

      • Nebraska Woman says:

        I forgot to mention that ex had his sleep interrupted many times by women of the evening pounding on his doors to ask if they could “service” him.
        He solved that problem by putting a huge sign in his windows saying “Happily married meaning no money here!”
        That seemed to solve the problem.

        • LOL There are also vinyl stickers with lizards inside the big red circle with a slash out there as well.

        • Nebraska Woman,
          My Dad was a trucker and what he did when one of the “ladies” knocked on his door was to invite them on up and then he would pull out his Bible already marked to an appropriate passage and start reading to them. He said that they couldn’t get out of his truck fast enough! lol

    • ha, you should see my ancient beat up car, only I never take drugs or drink, just don’t have much money.

      I have seen people pull a lot of crazy stunts on the roads, I’m surprised there aren’t even more accidents than there are. Just yesterday I saw two cars change lanes into the same lane, neither of them would back down
      and they both fit because they were small cars. Yikes!

  2. BC,
    Excellent article again, I hope people will listen, especially when it comes to tires and not tucking in behind or beside a big truck. When caps go flying there is no telling where one will land, and a tire can make a big boom when it goes.
    One other tip on winter driving that has worked well for me and the people I’ve given the suggestion. Watch the big trucks for spray from the tires. If you’re on a wet road and the spray stops coming off the trucks, chances are the road is starting to ice up and it’s time to slow down or get off the road.

    • Great tip. I was remiss in not mentioning that myself. Thanks very much!

      • BC
        Another thing people need to remember during icy/winter driving is to cancel the cruise control. That is a sure way to end up spinning out of control down the road. I personally also make it a practice to lift my foot off the accelerator when crossing a bridge. As the sign says, “Bridges freeze before roadways!”.

        • Never knew about NOT using cruise while raining until my husband went from cruising along at the speed limit to hydroplaning UNDER a Fedex two trailor truck. Whole family was in the car returning from a weekend away. my husband had a dislocated shoulder, I had a concussion, seat belt bruising and air bag burns, and the kids in the back seat only had a couple of minor cuts from the back window breaking. Jesus was definitely looking out for us that day.

        • Harry:

          Absolutely. After I moved up here I bought a 4×4 w/cruise. Never had one before. Hit a patch of ice and it was off to the races. Fortunately we walked away from that multiple roll over and no one was injured.

  3. Well done, BC. Unless there’s no option, I refuse to let someone tailgate me. When there’s a clear spot, I put on my right blinker, slow down, and pull over, forcing them to go by. Last week, I had one of these yoyos wave “thanks!”

    I’d be very interested in an article on staying safe, on and off the road. I still mourn a high-school friend named Johnny Belfance who was murdered a few years ago while sleeping in his cab, I think near Atlanta.

    • I’ve mentioned a time or two here that I drive like an old nan and get fuel mileage that no believes in my pickup truck. Because of my driving habits,I end up with a parade behind me also and I pull over often to let folks go by. Glad to see I’m not alone. Sorry for the loss of your freind. I plan in writing another article about safety on the road from bipedal predators.

      • bc
        very interested in seeing that article.

      • Predators would be a good subject, bc. During the 1970s I hitch hiked around the country–over 10,000 miles on one trip- and several other less pacific places as well, and the predators are definitely out there.

        One of my school mates did the same a few years later, called home from Santa Fe to say he was hitching on to San Diego, and has never been heard from since.

        I don’t know if he was less cautious than I was, because I did some fairly dimwitted things. Maybe he just was less lucky.

        There may not be so very many predators relative to the population, but they are actively looking for victims.

        Thanks for your article, bc. It was a good one on a subject we all too often may forget is about day to day survival.

        • You hitchhiked in the 70,s? you hippy! i hitched alot myself. i hitched from connecticut to florida a few times because i hated cold so much. I would go back when it warmed up. I ran into trouble only a few times while hitching.

          • “You hitchhiked in the 70,s? you hippy!”

            Totally, Dude. And mostly I used a horse collar to carry my stuff. Which I guess made me sort of a hippy with a Civil War influence. Horse collars work really well if you don’t have too much stuff.

            There are some very strange people out there looking for hitch hikers, though. At least there were then. People are much better now, of course.

  4. Hunker-Down says:

    Sometimes I drive slower than everyone on snow packed roads. I guestimate that my speed is as fast as safety allows if I go into a skid.
    In those conditions, am I a problem driver?

    • I replied to your comment but I guess I forgot to actually click on reply,so the lone comment below,was in reply to your question. My bad!

  5. BC I want to thank you. Drivers do not receive the credit or appreciation they deserve.

    If I didn’t know better, I would think my Daddy wrote this article. I rode many a mile as a kid on the doghouse of a ’79 International. Grew up within 2 miles of I 44 and saw seven drivers die in a tornado in 1993. (Well the aftermath minuets after) yep that just blew OPSEC on where I lived as a kid.

    One thing I remember Dad griping about the most were four wheelers in his blind spot. People need to realize if you can’t see their mirrors they can’t see you!!

    To this day if we are traveling anywhere a lot of trucks may be I take the wheel. If only because they can’t stand for me to be telling them how to drive around trucks.

    • Funny you should mention riding on a doghouse. My first wife was a neglectful mother and I brought my daughter with me for a couple tears so I could change diapers and make sure she was warm lived and fed. Her earliest memories are of try to stay in the lines while coloring in her coloring books,bouncing down the road on the doghouse of a transtar (corn binder. I unloaded trucks with my toddler daughter holding the tally sheets and being in charge of holding paperwork and being the cutest thing in the warehouse.

      • I’m glad she had someone to look after her. Im sure you raised a great kid!

        I remember becoming great at math by being my dad’s navigator. I was maybe seven or eight when I learned to read an atlas. By the next summer I was telling Dad where exactly the scales, exits and truck stops were. Not to mention he had me planning routes (which he double checked) and calculating fuel mileage. The best memories I’ve heavier has were the trips Mom went with us. I can tell you it’s was hard as he’ll using a coffee can bob tailing from Little Rock to Memphis. To this day I despise 40 across Arkansas!!

        • The coffe can was replaced by ziplock bags. 40 from little rock to Memphis isthebusiest and most heavily traveled truck route in the country. I cringe when I hear of my freinds wha are not travel savvy using that section of highway to get somewhere.

          • It’s also the bumpiest area of road I’ve traveled! Well besides turnpike bridges in OK. I wish I could remember the name if the town( I think it’s Rolland ) right inside AK/OK border where it drops to 55 and ALWAYS has a speed trap. Was nabbed there three years ago on my way back to AL for no tag light. Fortunately he was kind after he found out I was on my way back from what we thought was saying good by to Mom.

            • Okiebama,
              When traveling to OK from GA we always use I20 and then turn north around Tyler, TX. I hate the roads in AK and since we were just going to the southeastern part of OK it really did not add any time to the trip. It was actually better. It’s been nearly 20 years since I travelled the I40 route from Nashville to OK and did not like it at all.

              • I have to hit the NE corner of OK coming from North AL. I wish I could avoid it but, any other way adds at least two hours.

            • yep, roland,between ft.smith and muldrew.

  6. On one hand,I feel like you have just as much right to the road and a right to rely on your own good driving judgement as every other person on the road. If you come up on someone going slower than you,that person has the right to drive at a speed they feel is justified either by their skill level or their perception if a safe speed for the conditions present. However,not everyone is willing to recognize your rights and are angered when they come up on someone who is driving slower than they are. That’s the point where you have to decide if its prudent to speed up ,move over, or turn into a parking lot or driveway to let folks get by. Tailgaters are stressful and tend to alter your own reaction and judgement of conditions. I’ve seen a lot of angry tail gators who were convinced that somehow God ad granted them more gravity and friction,end up in ditches and medians with a freshly learned lesson under their belt.

    • Bc, that assuming they learned a lesson. Most dont, instead they will find a way to blame it on someone else. Tailgaters are the worst.

      • I have to admit, tailgaters still piss me off even at my age. I set my cruise on the speed limit and pretend they arent their,until ive had my fill then,instead of doing the wrong thing like i did in my mispsent youth, i find a wide spot and wave them around.

  7. Up here we have our winter “wonders”.. I have a fairly steep hill close to my house. My DW’s office is on the other side of it from the house and we almost always go over it to get into town proper.

    Equipment issues:

    How about 5 college kids, snow packed hill, 5.0 L Mustang. Yep I pulled over as they passed me going down the hill backwards. When they started having issues NO ONE would get out of the car.

    Next Best: And we have a lot of these. 1/2 ton pick-up, empty, with tires that should have been replaced in September of the year before. Sideways or coming down backward.

    My Favorite: New 4×4 pickup, 3/4 ton, empty, snow packed freeway, 80+ mph. Because? I have 4 wheel drive!

    With the college you are going to get a lot of young drivers who don’t know what to do in snow. They come from some where they don’t get much, have their friends in the car and are distracted.

    Then there was the accident this week – speeding down a hill with no apparent idea what they were doing. I didn’t see the accident and turned on to the road just after it happened. Girl making a left turn gets clipped in the rear quarter panel, spun around, and hits a rock wall/fence. The driver of the 4 wheel drive coming down the hill too fast got out looking very dazed and confused. Police were right on the spot. It’s like he didn’t realize that others might be using the same city streets as he was.

    Most of the accidents I see, are for the very reasons BC was talking about. I see more and more people who have no courtesy for anyone else so they just disregard the rules and drive how it pleases them. Seniors and parents are setting a bad example for our younger drivers, acting like – “If I don’t get caught, I didn’t do anything wrong.”

    Also an inability to visualize potential dangers. They are so used to being “feed” information, they don’t know how to “think it out”.

    Thanks BC for bringing up this timely subject.

    • Ive had to remind a few freinds with 4X4,s that it didnt give them more gravity,friction,or grant them a waiver from observing the laws of centrifagal force on curves. It just helps get them going and does nothing to help stop.

  8. BCTruck,

    Great article. It brings back good memories of truckers who saved my life.

    Many years ago, I was driving alone on the I-10 in Florida to visit my best friend (Pensacola to Gainesville), when some bad guys in an old Cadillac tried to force me off the road. They kept ramming my sports car on the driver’s side to make me stop. They pulled a big gun and pointed it at me, demanding me to pull over. I knew if I did that, I was dead.

    I grabbed my CB and called out for help, asking anyone to call the police. I must have sounded really terrified because suddenly a bunch of truckers, came on the wire asking questions. Where was I? Was I alone? What does my car look like? What is the other car and how many were in it?

    I-10 mile marker 142 (can’t believe I remember that), alone, red Mazda RX7, tan old Cadillac, 5 Hispanic-looking men, not boys. They have a gun.

    One trucker (Mike, I will always remember his first name) took the lead in talking. His voice was so calming. He said that about 30 miles ahead of me a convoy was rolling from New Orleans to Tampa. He said, “hit the pedal to the medal, we are slowing for you – drop into the pocket when you see it.”

    I did exactly what he said. I flipped off the bad guys (a very unlady-like gesture for me) and floored it. I hit nearly 120mph. I saw the truckers ahead of me, and they had all gotten into the slow lane. It allowed me to pass them in the fast lane. Mike said, “Your pocket ahead – slow down and slide into it.”

    I did what he said and slipped right into the cradle. Then other trucks came up beside me and I was surrounded, protected and hidden from access. It was very intimidation being in a tiny sports car in such close proximity of trucks, but I knew I was safe. I just focused on driving like my father had taught me.

    Eight truckers turned off at the upcoming trucking gas station and I went with them. I totally lost it, and they stayed with me until the police arrived. Mike and 3 other truckers followed me all the way to where I was going to in Gainesville and then took off for Tampa.

    I am telling you this story because I wan to say Thank You to all truckers – they saved my life and I can show my respect and appreciation. Thanks, BCTruck. :)

    • Nancy, wow. I am so glad you had some guardian angels that day. I know that there are very questionable people driving trucks, but I also know, from experience (not as harrowing as yours), that there are some amazing people out there too.

      • TG,

        Thanks! My dad always said that my guardian angels wore safety gear, chaps and helmets. hehe

      • I used to get some good rides from long haul truckers, back before the insurance companies put an end to that. I don’t remember ever having a bad experience with one, and I cannot say that about some of the drivers of cars. The truckers were good people.

  9. Hobbitt of the Shire says:

    inattentiveness I have seen long haul drivers weaving/bobbing across the roads. I have also seen cars doing the same thing. Please remember that most drivers are trying to obey the laws and rules, but there are a few that will try to make up time or will doctor log books and are driving while sleepy and tired. if i see that happening I will normally blow my horn or try to get their attention before i even attempt to pass them.

  10. BC – you are so right about egos. As a matter of fact, when my daughters all started dating, I had “the talk” with them. Amongst other things, I mentioned that paying attention to how someone drives and acts in a car is a good clue to their personality and that if you can relate bad driving citizenship to other factors of their lives that you may have noticed, take it as a big red flag and dump them quickly! I think that may have been the ‘only” part of my “talk” that they actually listened to. :_)

  11. I helped move my sister from St. Louis to Omaha and when we got into hilly country I had to chew her ass when we hit the first stop. She would pass trucks going up the hill and then pull in front of them and slow down to the speed limit not 20 yards I front of them going down the hill, must have done this 100 times before we stopped. This was the days before cell phones and I could hear the truckers cussing her a quarter mile away. She was just lost in her own little world and did not know what she was doing to other people on the road..

  12. At first I thought I would get wrapped up in grammar and spelling issues reading your article (mom was an English nut). But I did not and it was a great article. As a retired police officer I ran into the same truckers over and over during my more than 20 years of service. You offered sound advice with evidence to back up your reasoning. I applaud both you and your wife for the many years of safe driving. I have taken every thing you said to heart and will pass the info on to my family and friends. Thanks again, Kathleen

  13. PGCPrepper says:

    When driving in hilly country I showed my DW how truckers seem to try to get a “running start” before they meet the next incline for momentum. I simply try to get out of the way, opposite lane maybe or mimic their movement to not interrupt if I can.

    I still blink my headlights to indicate that a trucker can move over if passing on my left. They generally try to remain in the right lane. My dad taught me that along with slower traffic keeping right. Easy for me to move over because I drove the Autobahns and dey be lettin’ you know if you don’t. And yes, even if I’m going @ speed limit I move over if speedy comes along behind me.

    • I learned how to drive on the autobahn. I bought my first car over there. picture yourself in a 5 ton at a breakneck speed of 45 MPH on the autobahn. Germans hated me!!

      • Hunker-Down says:

        I drove a 2.5 full of troops on the autobahn outside of Stuttgart and we watched the natives whizz by at around 120.

  14. Great article BC. I usually find it difficult to keep with a long involved article if I am not getting something from it. With your article I read it from top to bottom and even came back to re-read some parts.
    Your insight from your years of experience is very interesting and I have already seen some things I can apply. It is ironic that some of the problem areas like impatience and ego seem to lessen with the years. :)
    I look forward to your upcoming article on “staying safe from bipedal predators while on the road” and I am sure it will be as informative as this one was.

  15. LongWinter says:

    Great article. I look forward to your next one!

  16. SCPrepperPoppa says:

    BC,
    Great job, great article too. I learn so much from others!
    Stuck in ice, snow here in SC. Sleet still falling too. Yuck.

  17. Great report BC. Thanks.
    I recall reading something a trucker wrote – about the weight of a full trailer means that a full 18-wheeler needs a long distance to stop. So when another driver cuts one off or shifts back in right lane in front of an 18-wheeler, they’re pulling into a dangerous zone – if the car has to stop suddenly, & the truck behind them CANNOT stop. It can be a setup for a “collision sandwich” w/ the car being smashed in the middle. So when u pull in front of an 18-wheeler, give that truck some extra distance.

    • It takes a football field or longer to stop a loaded truck.There is a move to mandate disc brakes for trucks, which i think makes perfect sense.There are a few class 8 trucks (18 whelers) that have them as an option, because they are a pretty big expense to add to a truck.But, the decrease the stopping distance dramatically.

  18. Bc, great article. I spent a lot of time as a passanger in a semi. All the comments about the dog house… memories of me curled up with the purr of the engine lulling me to sleep… and coloring going down a bumpy road is impossible. Lol. Thats why I switched to fuzzy posters, harder to see the mistakes.

    I agree with everything you said. I loved to drive when I lived in the middle of no where Colorado. The only thing you had to worry about was freak snow storms, ice, and elk in the middle of the road. Well there was one time I come around a corner and instead of elk had a herd of cows… but mostly I didnt have to worry about idiot drivers.
    Now that I am in the Houston area, OMG! Talk about taking your life in your hands every time you get on the road. I have had to completely alter the way I drive in order to survive.

    As for driving around semis, well I try to stay well away from them. There are certain companies that get a mile wide berth from me. The companies I know over work their drivers, cooked log books, ect. But I know that while there are a lot of good divers out there, I also know that there are a lot of the other kind. I dont have a crystal ball telling me which ones so I just try to keep clear. If I need to pass a truck I do it as quickly as possible. I never hang out beside a truck, and when I get in front of him I go so there is plenty of distance between my rear bumper and the front end of that truck.

    I remember one time I was out with my parents. We were coming down Eisenhower and it had just snowed. My dad was driving, my mom in the sleeper and I was stuck in the passenger seat. I think if my dad could have, he would have gagged me. ‘Um, dad, watch that car! Omg he is sliding right in front of us! OMG! Dad! Omg omg omg…. watch that truck DAD!!!!!’ There were 4 lanes going down the mountain that day. We had just made it thru before they closed it down. Donner in the winter, ha! You couldnt pay me enough. Much respect to the drivers who tackle that.

    • Eisenhower at christmas,,, ahhhhhh the memories. donner is a piece of cake ,it was the truckee scales that struck fear into my heart.I got an over length ticket there. I was one hole off. 600 bucks at christmas. (for those that dont klnow, one hole is about 6 inchs of wheel base. california has the shortest length bridge law of any state) I couldnt avoid donner,my terminal was in sacremento.

    • oh,one more thing.Of all the cities we drove through,Houston was the most brutal and unforgiving. For 11 years i came from SA on the 10 at morning rush and went north on 59 to our terminal in humble. I DONT MISS IT!!! Be very careful,houston traffic is deadly,starting from brookshire on to beaumont.

      • My Dad died in his sleeper at a truck stop in Houston. I think it was the Flyin J. I just remember there were two Mom talked about. A Petro and another.

        Mom and Dad had a guiding angel there. All Mom could remember was screaming on the CB while trying to do CPR. She told me about a giant black man named Valentine that pulled my dad out of his sleeper to help.

        I would give anything to find him to say thanks. It was Feb 25 1993.

        • I’m real sorry to hear that. It’s a hard thankless job that is filled with stress and sometimes it felt like everybody hates you from the traffic on the road to cops who view you as no more than a source of revenue. It’s a shame to have be a part of that world then not get to enjoy life after you’ve done so much to earn it.

      • Houston traffic is indeed brutal. I drive it every day.

  19. patientmomma says:

    Thanks BCtruck; great article!

  20. Curley "Bull" says:

    BC

    Great article and good advice. In an earlier comment you mentioned what may be found behind the wheel these days. I remember when Semi Jockeys were the Knights of the road, but alas it has changed.

    Bull

    • I compare it to companies trying to get larger bonuses and benifit packages for the suits by cutting expenses everywhere else. In the case of trucking,a lot of these companies get government incentives when they hire umma grants for half what they would pay an experienced American. It’s all about the dollar now.

  21. BC, great piece.
    As a Safety Officer, Defensive Driving Instructor, former Motorcycle Safety Instructor, etc, etc, etc, I think you nailed much of it. Driving is by far the most dangerous activity most Americans will ever engage in and yet most people will just put it on automatic and go.

    • It’s real easy to fall into a state of mind that is not constantly. Attentive,especially when it’s a somewhat boring and repetitive task. Thanks for your input.

  22. Rider of Rohan says:

    I would never have believed a fellow could come up with an article on surviving interstate travel and make it relevant. I was wrong again. That was an excellent article, bctruck, and one that I’m going to have my daughter read. Prepping comes in all sorts of forms these days, and this one was just outstanding.

  23. mom of three says:

    Thank you BC! My father always taught us to give truckers, their space ALWAYS!!!! When I pass I always get at least a half of a mile ahead, sometimes more.. Just like trains, take up to two miles before they come to a complete stop. Hey I drive a suburban, I always have two cars lengths but some little car butts, in I have had a couple of close calls of having a trunk in my grill. I love my Rosie girl truck very much. I have a 454, under the hood and when I need that power well let’s just say they can eat my dust. ( only a couple of times of course :)

    • yeah,i understand the big vehicle. I could never go back to driving a car. I have a pickup and thats as small a vehicle as i want to drive.

  24. My Dad was a trucker most of his professional life. Your points are so valid. You can really tell what person is like when they are behind the wheel. When I am on the road, people drive me nuts. I just try to put on some tunes or talk and try to block out the stupidity.

    • when im on the interstate now, i stay in the slow lane,set my cruise and i go slow enough that most people who eventually catch up to me,will go around me. If i go to town, i take the back roads if at all possible.

      • bctruck,

        Great article and I drive like you in the slow lane and take back roads when I can.

        My father always taught me to respect the truckers either get behind them or in front of them don’t continue to ride side by side. When I get in front of them I have my blinker going and drive way ahead of them as to not cut them off.

      • Rider of Rohan says:

        My strategy is to stay off the interstate highways, period. I find it to be fairly easy since I rarely go to any big cities, and those I do go to I can reach using two-lane roads. When I do use the interstate system, I try to maintain the speed limit and go along with the flow of traffic. And stay out of the way of the lunatics.

  25. Mother Earth says:

    Good article Bctruck…I’ve always given the big rigs my respect. After all, they are a lot bigger than me! Also, because we would have nothing in the stores if it wasn’t for the semi’s and I don’t think a lot of people realize just how important those trucks are.

    Only one time did I get into it with a driver, I as in the middle lane and he wanted over but I had no place to go to let him. He started “wiggling?” His truck at me threatening so I got up to his window and motioned for him to pullover is I could kick his a**! Of course he just laughed at me.

  26. oversized egoes drive all kinds of vehicles.trucks,cars, motorcycles.Now that i dont have to make my living on the interstate anymore, i do my best to stay off it if its at all possible for me to get where i want to go using backroads.

  27. My whole family is in the trucking Industry for over thirty years. My little sister has driven alone for over 25 years now. There was a time when there truckers were the Hero’s of the road. Now to many of them are people that would not help anyone and my very well be a murderer. To many Drivers should not drive a bicycle let alone a truck. There are some Drivers that are great people but it is impossible to tell anymore. Thanks BC for being one of the Heros

  28. I remember riding to Flagstaff from n calif. I was riding down a hill that was a 7 percent grade for 2 miles. I was in the left land doing a tad over the speed limit. I was passed on the right by a big rig pulling doubles.He was doing a bit over 80 pulling doubles on a 7 percent grade. I had my wife on the back .I had a serious pucker factor going on,I slowed down and kept my eye on his turn signal. I had no idea if he saw my so a calmly slowed down so he could pass me. My biggest fear was that he did not see me and he would do a lane change right over me.

  29. In this article,my intention was to simply convey some of the things I’ve learned from a person who has achieved several million safely driven miles. Not so much the fact that it was through the windshield of an 18 wheeler,but simply as another person who has shared and driven the highways we all have an equal right to. I’m sure fir every trucker who “bobbed and weaved” or threatened to change lanes while your still in it,or passed you down hill going 80 ,there were hundreds of thousands of truckers doing their job and getting the groceries,medicine,building products and all the things we prepperstock stock up on so life won’t be as uncomfortable when the system we all rely in goes down,safely to their destination. I wish I could have added this observation to the article.

    After all those miles and the largest pition of my life spent behind the wheel,I can tell you there are two distinctly differance types of drivers. This observation isn’t based so much on personality,but of the two basics types of human behavior. The observation I’ve made is this. Sharing the highway is far more than just preventing your vehicle from coming in contact with others. It’s about seeing the big picture. By that I mean anticipating the needs of other drivers and being a part if what makes traffic safer for everyone. For instance,your coming up in an on ramp and you,being a driver that is concerned with the welfare of all,realize you may need to change lanes to accommodate the vehicle attempting to merge onto the highway,or even slow down some to help with a seamless an uneventful merge. On the other hand you have those that are so self absorbed proud sibley just plain stupid and unaware/uncaring for others needs ,that it would never cross their mind to be an influence on the smooth transition of other traffic on to the interstate. It’s the same with construction. You have those that see flashing lights and take action to prevent themselves from endangering construction workers,and you have those that continue on the same path at the same speed,wondering why all those people with shovels are so close to thier car. In short (maybe it’s to late for short) like all other aspects of human endeavors,you have those that pitch in and help pull the wagon and work towards a common goal ,in this case,safely getting your own car and those of others from piint a to point b,and you have those that are completely oblivious and unconcerned with needs or safety if anyone but themselves. I look at the interstate as a very long stage that sometimes is the home if a well choreographed ballet ,surrounded by safe and capable drivers who “get it” and see the big picture and those or surrounded by those that can’t think,act,or be concerned with anything beyond their own hood ornament. It’s been great having this discussion and thanks to everyone fir commenting and sharing your views and ideas.

    • Stupid auto correct.

    • I was not saying anything bad about truckers i general. I just wanted to tell of a oh *%&@ moment I had in Arizona.

      • No steve, i didnt think (or care) that you were saying anything bad about truckers. I just wanted to be sure people understood this article was written by someone who had put many millions of miles on, and the lessons i learned applied to anyone in a vehicle sharing the highway. But as a trucker, whenever someone has asked me what i did for a living, i always got the “this trucker tailgated me” or “this trucker went by me to fast” comment. My usual reply is a bit lengthy. trucks account for 70% of all miles driven on the interstate and are involved in only 20% of all accidents, and only a small % of those are deemed to be the trucks fault. mile for mile,truckers have a safety rating far far superior to non truckers. My next reply is, for every instance of something stupid a trucker did,i can give you a thousand of stories of something someone in a car did to me. But Im not sensative about criticism, just a little touchy about misinformation and skewed facts. Ill bet you didnt know those statistics that i just stated. Most people dont.there is big big money in regulating, making new laws, and enforcement of trucks. It is in the PTB,s best interest to skew public opinion against truckers as much as possible. That way no one cares when they write an outrageous ticket or are ” overzelous” in their enforcement efforts. My wifes one and only ticket of 57 in a 55 is a perfect example. Even i have a horror story involving a truck. I bought a very expensive 5th wheel camper and was pulling for its very first time with two $30,000 harleys in the back, hooked to the back of my brand new f250, when a truck passing me, came over about halfway past me and ran me clear into the breakdown lane.When i got back on the highway behind him, i could see the driver on his cell phone. Bad drivers are everywhere around us,

    • Great article BC. I read through it last night and this morning on the way to work I thought about something that I didn’t see mentioned, but now you’ve covered it too. The on ramp. Too often I see people with the cruise on hanging out on the left side of a rig as they approach and pass an on ramp. A car coming down the ramp to merge can’t see another car on the other side of a big rig. The speed up expecting him to move over, but he can’t. I’ve also seen people going down the ramp at full speed that never check their mirror or look over their shoulder to see what’s coming at them. Please folks, for your safety and that of others, when contemplating passing a rig make sure you can get all the way past it before he gets to the bottom of an on ramp so he can move over if necessary. And check your mirrors before you try to jump into traffic, he may not be able to move over.
      I’m not a trucker, but my late husband, both my brothers, and several uncles and cousins were and I have never lost my respect for the job that truckers do. Even more so in weather like we all are having now. Thank you for bringing the groceries to the store so I can put them on my table.

  30. Swabbie Robbie says:

    Re: impatient people who want to go faster. I let them pass. I watch this a lot in the winter when there is snow on the roads. Every car truck and van handles snow differently depending on tires, mass, height, and the drivers abilities. I just figure the impatient ones want to be 1st to the scene of the accident.

    Trying to warn others of a hazard: I always do if I can. Well, I live in hill country with narrow winding roads with little shoulders. A truck pulling a cattle trailer impatiently passed me on a hill and I saw his trailer tail gate was open and swinging back and forth. I sounded my horn and waved and pointed and flashed my lights. I tried to stay with him til I got his attention. I did. He stuck his arm out the window and flipped me off with the sign that indicates is IQ.
    I slowed down and backed off. About a mile down the road there he was pulled over, his swinging tailgate had hit a pole and was laying in the road. I just did an open handed shrug as I passed him.

  31. midnight1st says:

    Thanks, BC! I really appreciate what you said about not hanging around 18 wheelers. I did not realize that was a problem and have always just picked a truck to follow on the interstate. I won’t be doing that anymore.

    • Its fine to follow a truck,just be sure to stay back far enough so you can react if a tire blows.

      • Hunker-Down says:

        Several years ago I was driving South out of Minneapolis on the interstate. As I passed a semi, I was mid way between his back tires and the set under the cab when he blew a retread. The back of my car was maybe a foot ahead of that tire. There were a lot of 8-12 inch pieces of exploded retread that flew past me then bounced off the windshield.
        I just slowed down and pulled into the right hand lane behind him. Neither of us stopped. I was too busy checking out the other cars, looking for one to panic and didn’t get a plate number. Other cars near us stayed in their lane and slowed, waiting for the shrapnel to stop flying.

  32. BC Truck,
    Great article! My Dad was a trucker for most of his life. I went on a trip with him driving through OH, WV & PA. The roads in PA were so bad that I had a hard time staying in my seat. Once I fell asleep and we hit a bump and I landed in the floor. He laughed so hard! :) Good Memories.

    My Dad has an excellent driving record like you and I like to think that he taught me well. Dad taught me to read a map and to know my geography. I have a good sense of direction. There are so many people that without GPS they would not know how to get anywhere. All I need is a map.

    Once I blocked traffic in a nearby city so that a truck could make a right hand turn onto a narrow road. It was rush hour and no one wanted to give him a minute to make the turn. I was passing a truck early one morning on I20 in LA and a tire blew, it scared me to death. I hurried to finish passing him before the tire completely fell apart. I could see the tire debris flying in my rear view. I was glad that the traffice was light.

    I also know of another trucker that was trying to make a right turn and unknown to him a small vehicle with 4 college girls pulled up on his right. All 4 died when his rig went right over them. The driver had nightmares for years after that. This happened in either Pittsburg or Phila in the late 60′s or early 70′s. I was a kid so I don’t remember. He was a friend of ours.

    You made many good points with your article. People seem to turn off their brain when they get behind the wheel of a car. Just because you have 4wd does not mean that you can go anywhere and as fast as you want.

    Speaking of Houston, I do everything I can to avoid that city when I go see my Dad. My Mom lives near Beaumont and from her house I go to Galveston and around to the other side of Houston to see my Dad. I did go through Houston not long ago and it was timed just right. Hwy 59 on a Sunday morning when people are still in church or at home. :)

    • Thanks brenda. I ove houston. I take the ferry from Louisiana over to galveston. Its a little scary cause i hate being on the ocean but i do it to avoid houston.

  33. BC,

    I hate having to drive more than five minutes, especially if I am by myself. There are a lot of stupid drivers out there–people just not paying attention.

    Please keep the articles coming. You are the McGuiver of the Wolf Pack.

    • There are so many distractions in a vehicle now. the nav systems are complicated, stereos with built in cd screens, blue tooth stereos that can play music wirlessly from your iphone, not to mention smart phones. Its almost as though driving is second to entertainment in a vehicle.

  34. Inattentiveness is a big problem! I drive an 18 foot box truck daily at work, so I spend a lot of hours behind the wheel. Needless to say, I have had numerous “near misses” involving some idiot playing on their cellphone!

    Be careful out there!

  35. Donna in MN says:

    BC,
    I being a former trucker, you did a good job describing safety issues. I drove a White freightliner cabover back in 1977 through 82 . I still dim the lights in my 4×4 when a semi passes me for clearance, a courtesy I never lost. I always drive defensively.

    For those who want to save money on insurance costs, take a defensive drivers course. It takes 8 hrs or less to complete, and refreshers are 4 hrs. You will also be better prepared for most older people lose reaction time and have to make up for it by inticipating trouble ahead.

    I also have a thick blanket and a bug out bag, flashlight, flare kit, and a square red cloth for breakdowns. The bug out bag changes from summer items to winter. Also have pepper spray. I carry an air compressor that attaches into my lighter plug-in and used it last week when my left rear tire went flat on the road. It had a slow leak so it inflated okay until I got it fixed. It pays to have these emergency items as I saw on the news many were stuck on the interstates and highways from the storms.

    • I taught my wife todrive in a white frieghtliner cabover, WITH NO POWER STEERING! When her arms where as big as mine, i decided it was time to buy a truck with power steering.

  36. Hunker-Down says:

    BC,

    Please give us a couple of company recommendations for 12 volt appliances, like coffee pot, griddle, microwave, etc.

    Also, what is the proper strength battery to plug them into?

    Thanks.

  37. BC
    I was in a small Horizon (the size of a VW Beetle ) in the 80′s. I was passing a semi hauling small boats on the PA turnpike when he pulled into my lane and his trailer pushed me into the guard rail (Thank God ! ) and left the pattern of his wheel turning on the outside of my car. There was bumper to bumper traffic and I had to keep going . I called him on the CB, but he ignored me. A very deep voice told me to slow down so he could check my tire, then he said to chase the guy and he would be right behind me. Several other people talked to the driver and he finally pulled over a few miles down the road. We got out and he insisted that he’d never hit me, but the deep voiced person appeared beside me and said, YOU DID SO !! He made sure the guy gave me all his info, then he gave me his dispatcher’s number if I needed him again, and had me drink some of his black coffee to calm down. He was about 5′ 2″, with a shiny pate and a flowing red beard and his CB moniker was, “Leprechaun”. The guy that hit me was moonlighting and had no insurance, but he sent me a good check to pay for the repairs. P.S. I had 2 kids in the car with me. The one in the front ended up practically on my lap to get away from that big wheel, but the one in the back slept through it. It was a holiday weekend and there wasn’t a trooper within earshot.

  38. Chuck Findlay says:

    I work as a handyman and drive all over my area every day. I really hate the 9 AM & 5 PM rush hours as people at these times drive crazy. I try hard to not be on the road at these times. For the most part I’m able to schedule work to avoid rush hour.

    I live in a medium size city so rush hour is not super bad, but it’s bad enough. I would hate to live in a big city like LA, Atlanta or anyplace with millions of people in it. I just don’t understand the need to drive 60 in a 35 mph city street on your way home to sit and do nothing.

    Life is too short to drive crazy and chance shoring it more. There is a Chrysler auto plant here and at 5 PM it’s like watching a day at a race track as all those fools leave the parking lot.

  39. Some states back east have laws on the interstate that say ” Left lanes , NO trucks ” , It works well , I wish AZ would adopt it , its starting to become a problem .

  40. thanks for the article and sharing your wisdom on driving, very good points made and pay attention to the road.
    thanks again.
    davin

  41. Riding a motorcycle I chanted trucks equal death until it became indelibly marked on my brain and I stay the heck away from them even driving a cage which I am more likely to be doing now.

    I also got in the habit of assuming the drivers around me would do the most stupid thing they could think of at the worst possible time for me and made my desitions based on that.

    Cynical? Yes! But I am still alive and having driven and worked around large equipment I give it the room I think it needs plus a Murphy/Stupid bonus and go from there.

    SD

  42. BC, your advise to look as far down the road as you can is VERY good. I didn’t really do this till I started riding motorcycles 12 years ago.

    In 2007 on my way to work on a two lane hwy, in my “cage” I was scanning the road up ahead. I was meeting an 18 wheeler, about 100 or so yards away from me, I noticed a sheet of ice lift off the trailer, I was in a honda civic and the sheet was as big as the hood of my car. I slammed on the brakes and prayed, and ducked straight down. Good thing I did because the sheet of ice ripped up the hood and most of the ice came through the passengers side. Flatting the passengers side seat and mangling the headrest.

    My roof at the top of the windshield had about a 16 inch dent in it. (wish I could post pics) When I came to a stop and figured out I wasn’t in the road, I was parked perfectly on the shoulder of the road with hood sticking straight up. Motor still running. Jesus take the wheel moment for sure!

    Cost me a trip in Air Evac for head possible neck injuries checked, the driver did stop and turn around. His company is crap but he was a good guy. Guys my 45 minute flight to hospital was over 10 thousand dollars! Carry Air Evac insurance!

    Where I lived there was NOTHING on the ground, a winter storm had went through North of us a week before this happened. Guy that stopped to help me said that sheet had to be at least 6 inches thick.

    I lived, I picked glass out of my face and head for almost 7 years, which doctors tell me is normal. BC I know you are a true safety man and would never endanger anyone just letting everyone else know that not all trucking companies or drivers are as good as our BCTRUCK!

  43. Yes, looking farther down the road is an important advice. Use the trees and posts as guides to a curve up ahead. Being alert and not using your mobile phone while driving. Stay safe!

  44. BC,
    Good article and great information and insight. Growing up in the hills of western PA, we had a rule with large trucks. Never be behind one going up a hill, or in front of one going down a hill. When driving along roads in hill country you may occasionally see a rough road cut that leads off of the highway and generally up a hill into a bunch of trees. For those who don’t know, these are run a way lanes, and are all too often used by trucks to arrest their descent on a long downhill run when something goes wrong. This is why you don’t want to be in front. Respecting everyone on the road is a good idea; but, when you’re outweighed by tens of tons, anything else is suicide.
    I have too many peeves about other drivers, so it’s probably best that I stop here.