Color Changes…it’s Autumn

Vibrant reds, yellows and golds abound in the view through the windshield as we travel the country. Temperature changes rapidly when the sun goes down or as we climb in elevation. Parents are relieved because they know where their kids are for at least eight hours a day. Flocks of birds and butterflies fill the sky as they migrate south to avoid the icy, approaching winter. Our noses are tingled with the sometime acrid smell of burning leaves. Stores put away their lawn chairs and suntan lotion and refill their shelves with Halloween candy and cold weather items.

It is autumn. Truckers change with the seasons like the trees. We gather up our heavier clothing and put it on the truck, hang tire chains, start adding fuel additives and check to make sure the hot water valves are turned on to our heaters. Those of us with bug screens for the radiator will be digging the winter covers out. Smart drivers will be adding their winter supplies to the truck…non perishable foods and water, extra blankets, ice melt and of course winter boots.

Autumn brings on some extra driving challenges. Here are a few to watch out for:

School buses and walking children

Deer crossing the road

Morning frost on the roadways

Leaves piled up in wooded areas on the highway, wet leaves on the pavement can be slick as ice 

Frost on the windshield

Ice fog

Freezing rain

Halloween pranksters

The Autumn brings Halloween time and that holiday seems to bring out the worst in some people. One must watch overpasses more carefully than normal for dropped or hanging objects. Two of the biggest scares I have ever had driving concerned Halloween time. I was approaching an underpass at night both times. The first time I was driving a semi and someone thought it would be funny to drop a scarecrow off the overpass as I started under it. I thought someone was committing suicide and locked it down. Luckily the road was dry and no one was close behind me. I hit the scarecrow dead on and you can imagine the relief combined with anger I felt when it exploded in a burst of straw instead of body parts! The other incident was when I was helping out a friend by driving her hotshot rig for a couple of weeks and was a lot more dangerous. It was a one-ton pickup with a 40’ flatbed trailer. As I went under an overpass on I-40 near Jackson TN, someone had hung a large steel nut from fishing line from the overpass. It took out my passenger side windshield splattering glass all over the inside of the truck. I was lucky and wasn’t injured, but it could have been different. Many pumpkins end up being thrown off of overpasses and can become a hazard not only from the impact of hitting a windshield, but can also cause slickness on the pavement possibly causing a tire to spin. Some think it funny to have a ghost attached to a rope and allow it to swing out at a driver as they go under an overpass or under low hanging trees. It isn’t the imagined ghosts and goulies one has to watch out for.

Anytime over pass tips: Watch the overpasses as you approach. If you see someone suspicious on the bridge, switch lanes, slow down and keep watching. If someone does throw something off at you, or if you observe something hanging down, by all means dial 911. Many people have been hurt or killed by thrown or hanging objects from overpasses.

Deer crossing the road kill many people each year and cost untold vehicle damage. I hit a big buck just a week or two ago that took out the grill on the truck. If you see a deer on the side of the road, slow down. If it runs out in front of you…HIT THE DEER! The action that kills many people is swerving to avoid the deer and they end up losing control of the vehicle. Remember, if you see one deer, it is probable that there is another one somewhere around.

School buses are everywhere this time of year and on through to spring. Kids run out around them to get to their houses without taking the time to check traffic, assuming that everyone is stopped. Remember that you must stop for a stopped school bus…many states require all lanes to stop. Use your flashers when slowing down and while stopped, you may be blocking another’s view of the bus. Also remember that the driver has many little distractions and may make a mistake…be alert and help keep the kids safe. Kids are walking to and from school this time of year also. Watch out for them!

We all know how kids might engage in horseplay and accidentally push another kid off the sidewalk or side of the road. Many kids walk home in the dusk after sports practice too…a smaller child is harder to see in low light conditions. 

Autumn brings many good things, football, glorious colors and cooler weather. Enjoy the views from your windshields as you safely navigate through the autumn scenery.

Drawing the Line

Making laws that only affect certain segments of the population can cause a lot of harm along with discrimination and even the disenfranchising of citizens. Disenfranchising is a big word; it means 1.  Deprive (someone) of the right to vote, the law disenfranchised some 3,000 voters on the basis of a residence qualification 2. Deprived of power; marginalized a hard core of kids who are disenfranchised and do not feel connected to the school 3. Deprive (someone) of a right or privilege a measure which would disenfranchise people from access to legal advice 4. Deprive (someone) of the rights and privileges of a free inhabitant of a borough, city, or country.

In a recent conversation with an acquaintance, we got talking about the BMI/Sleep Study issue facing truckers, which led to him speaking about government health care. He felt that he should not be required to pay, as a taxpayer, for anyone who was obese or who engaged in any other sort of risky choices such as smoking or bungee jumping; they should pay for their own conditions or injuries relating to the risky behavior. Of course he is neither obese or a smoker I assume. While I saw his point of view to a degree, his comments got me thinking about where do we draw the line.

Women die in childbirth and babies are born with major medical conditions all of the time. One could say that becoming pregnant is making a risky choice, so should women of childbearing years be covered under government healthcare if they get pregnant? How about the babies that are born with medical conditions that requires thousands of dollars to correct; should they be covered?

Construction workers do dangerous jobs as do truckers, fishers, oil field workers e.g.; all choose to do this type of work, should they be covered under government healthcare? Many people like to boat, swim, ski both water and snow, ride jet skis; many are hurt doing this each year, should they be covered? Law enforcement and firefighters lose their lives or are hurt too; should they be covered? The fatality and injury rates for motorcyclists are very high; should they be covered? For that matter, tens of thousands are injured in car crashes each year; should people who drive be covered? How about athletes; they are always getting hurt, should they be covered?

It is currently popular to look down on people who smoke or who are obese. All of the media is flooded with diet plans and quit smoking devices and the people behind these plans along with the media are making money hand over fist from the adverse publicity against these two segments of the population. People like my acquaintance, are up in arms against obese people and smokers further dividing the population against themselves over government healthcare and who should get it or who should not.

Where do we draw the line because as we know, everyone is against someone or something. If a line is drawn against one or two segments of legal citizens getting the same benefits as the others because of choices they make, how long do you think before the line moves and encompasses you and the choices you make? Not long at all.