Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How To Save A Life

Here I am sitting in a truck stop restaurant, mesmerized by a check for $11.00 for the soup and salad bar. I'm thinking to myself "is this imported lettuce?!" Well, mostly mesmerized anyway. I'm kinda like a puppy in that respect; I get distracted easily. I have the attention span of a gnat on meth. I'm usually amazed I can finish writing these little posts. (People wonder why they're so short but they don't realize the Herculean effort it takes to get past 3 sentences). 
Anyway, I turned my attention to the window. Probably to watch the grass move in the wind. Before my gaze dropped that low I found traffic to watch. Yeah, a truck driver that watches traffic for fun. No wonder I can't get a date, I'm boring. So I'm watching traffic when I see it. I know it's going to happen but I'm powerless to avert my gaze. 
You see, one advantage to spending years fighting traffic is that I've developed some kind of sixth sense for people who drive like idiots. So as soon as I saw this car my "spidey trucker sense" started tingling. Or maybe I just got a conveniently timed itch. Either way, I knew what was about to happen.
 
Speeding down the far right lane a car tried to outrun traffic and shoot across 6 lanes of traffic to make a left. No signal, no gradually getting over into the turn lane...he just gunned it and turned the wheel. 
Not. Even. Close. He hadn't even made it as far as the turning lane when there was apparently a catastrophic miscalculation somewhere. Not being aware of this guy's intent a car in the middle lane sped up. Uh oh. I kinda yelled "and we have contact, but not with intelligent life!" a split second before they connected. More of those strange looks I get from waitresses and patrons. 

See, I see people do stuff like this all the time. They like to dive over at the last people second to catch off ramps or run down the side of stopped traffic to get in right before they collide with construction barrels. Why? Are they so self absorbed that other vehicles don't matter? Are they busy posting on Facebook (or updating their blogs. 😳) and not paying enough attention?

I'd like to take this opportunity to explain a few life-saving devices. First, headlights. If it's raining and you don't have them on then we truck drivers usually can't see you. That means I think that lane is open. You'll end up in the ditch or under my trailer. Neither of those are ideal. 
Next, if you look to the left of your steering wheel you'll see a stick-like object. If you're going to move to the left then push that thing downward. To move right push it upward. It's pretty simple and conveniently located in such a manner that, with minimal practice, you can use it while the car is in motion. 
You also have shiny, reflective glass objects usually right outside both the left and right doors. Those, if you glance over, can usually be used to see if there is traffic in their respective lanes. 
Next, and this one is tough because your car isn't equipped with it, is common sense. Exercise that enough and it becomes standard equipment no matter which vehicle you drive. 

Granted, some people are able to effectively multitask to some degree. More frequently I'm seeing those who can't multitask enough to think and drive. Yet they bebop along completely unaware of the hazard they cause, driving missiles of steel. 
I see roadsides saying "headlights on when wipers required" or "move over for emergency vehicles". I've quit wondering why people need to be told these things and begun marveling at how, even with these signs, people still don't practice these common sense techniques. 

I'm going to use two words here that even my kids hear all the time. "Situational awareness". It's really just that simple. Look, signal, plan ahead. Try it folks. We truck drivers do it daily. In fact, most people aren't aware how often truck drivers save their lives. It's true. On countless occasions I, myself, have had to take evasive action to keep from running over someone who seemed hell-bent on being reckless. Because I practice situational awareness.