Once again we hear that a trucker has been hit and killed while walking in a truck stop; this time it was a double tragedy as two truckers were killed four days apart at the Pilot Travel Center at exit 4 on Interstate 81 near White Pine, TN. While these types of accidents are not a daily occurrence, they do happen with some regularity mostly at night. What is going on in the truck stops that truckers are killed while walking across the lot?
A combination of factors is most likely at fault, dark parking lots, wearing too dark of clothing by the pedestrian, both driver and pedestrian not paying attention, and last but not least; speeding through the truck stops by truck drivers. Sit in any truck stop and pay some attention and you will see all of these factors at work at any time.
Truck stops, or as they prefer these days to be called, Travel Centers, are all feeling the hit of the economy and one way some are saving money is to cut down on the outside parking area lighting. Add to that factor that many drivers are coming into a lit area from driving in the dark and might not be able to see while they adjust from night vision and you have an accident of some sort waiting to happen.
Truckers tend to wear darker clothing; dark blue jeans or other pants, darker T-shirts and in winter dark jackets and hats. The darker clothing makes sense to those who drive truck; a trucker’s clothing is a grease and road grime magnet. A trucker walking across the lot will blend into any shadows due to their clothing choices and will be totally non visible in many cases out of direct light.
With all the talk about texting and driving, texting and walking is a real problem too and takes one’s attention from where they are walking. Other distractions are normal; having to rush to the bathroom, hungry, tired, stressed or pushed on time for a delivery/pickup are some that affects both drivers and walkers. A trucker coming into the truck stop is also thinking about getting into the fuel island or getting that parking spot along with the former distractions.
Finally; it makes no sense, but there are times when a truck stop parking lot looks like a NASCAR track with trucks doing warm up laps. A truck whipping into a driveway or driving around the parking lot at 25-35 miles per hour equals a speeding torpedo and can do the same damage to walkers or even to other trucks. Tsk, Tsk.
To save your life in any parking lot if you are going to be walking:
Wear something light colored, put reflective tape on your jacket or hat or carry a small flash light that can be seen while you walk.
Look before walking out from between two trucks or stepping out into the driving lanes.
Watch for other trucks backing up and never assume that they see you…wait out of the way or walk around them the other way.
Give the truck the right of way unless the driver motions you to go ahead and then look before you clear their protection for any other trucks moving.
Before walking in front of any truck that is idling, look up if the driver is in the seat and make eye contact with them.
Wait to do any texting until you are inside or back in your truck.
Keep your head up and your eyes moving while walking so you can see anyone that is driving near you.
Do not get out of your truck if someone is getting ready to either back in or pull out of the space on your driver side and always use the three point entry or exit strategy.
To avoid hitting someone who is walking:
Slow that big rig down Mr. or Ms Truck Driver! Is that two seconds you save getting to that parking spot, into that fuel island or hitting the road worth anyone’s life? If it is, then you should have left sooner or not stopped as often and need to rethink your priorities.
As you enter the truck stop take a quick look around for anyone who might be walking near your path of travel.
If you are going to back up from the fuel islands or into a parking spot, make sure that there is no one behind you; get out and look works in the truck stop too.
As you pull into or out of the fuel island or parking spot, take a second and look both ways carefully for anyone walking near your path of travel.
If you motion someone to walk in front of you while you stop, help them by watching for another truck that might come around you on the walker’s blind side; let them know if it is unsafe to proceed.
We truckers face enough dangers from everyone else on the roads and in the truck stops without having to worry about our brother and sister drivers running us over. All drivers need to take responsibility for each other’s safety while walking or driving in a truck stop or warehouse parking lot. Finally, we all have to have some respect for each other and show that respect by being courteous to each other especially when our lives are at risk when we are in the supposedly safe haven of a truck stop. Working together on this, we can avoid having to read of another report of a trucker hitting and killing another trucker in a truck stop; that would make my day, wouldn’t it yours?
Ya’ll be safe out there!