Truck Stop Walking Safety

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!

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Civility and Responsibility

Civility and Responsibility

by Sandy Long

We will most likely never know why that man in Arizona decided to kill people; perhaps he wanted to commit suicide by cop, who knows.  For some reason though, he went ‘postal’ and followed a long line of others who ‘lost it’ and took innocent person’s lives in the process.  Prayers flow to the victims and survivors; and to all Americans, because his actions highlight what can happen when government fails and people stand up.

Rhetoric has flown in the days following this sad event with fingers pointing and blame being assigned.  Some superficial actions have been suggested such as congress sitting together during president Obama’s state of the union address instead of sitting divided by party.  While I have to agree that is a good thing to do, it falls short of the bipartisan concentration needed to bring our country and people together.

America has become a chaotic millstream of hate and angry rhetoric with campaign promises forgotten and special interest groups taking precedence over what is good for the country.  The government’s and our focus is on foreign countries, people’s sex lives, disasters and the bottom line of companies while our own people suffer lack of employment, health care and even homes.  This mix can only create anger, fear and lead to uncontrolled actions by some.

Divide and conquer should be our nation’s motto these days as political parties and special interest groups strive to create further division among citizens instead of bringing us together to fix the problems facing us.    No respect is given to anyone who doesn’t believe the way someone else does, labels are more important than looking at someone’s record on all things and one is judged not on their actions, but on their political affiliation.

Semantics enter in when words like ‘take someone out’ is used when referring to voting someone out of office.  Visual aids such as targets are used to stress who does not meet someone else’s idea of what should be happening.  While these two things to a normal person does not mean violence should be used, with the stressors that are flowing through our country at this time, over stressed or mentally ill people can be misled into thinking that they are ‘helping’ the country and themselves by killing someone.

Politicians want to calm the rhetoric and have people not speak out to solve the problem we face now.  I do have to agree to a point with that in that we do need to remember to be civil in our discourse even if it gets heated instead of evolving into a personal attack on anyone. 

However, I lay the problem and the solution right at the feet of our government.  Our representatives from the president on down need to work towards the betterment of our country and our own people and need to listen to our voices.  THEY need to check themselves and their actions and remember both their responsibility to the people they serve and to remain civil to their peers.  THEY need to put their constituents first before foreign interests and special interest groups.  THEY need to cut their pay to help our country to recover financially instead of asking for more money for ‘protection’.  THEY need to be honest in their words to the public; Americans will work themselves to the bone if they have honest goals to achieve.  THEY need to refrain from divide and conquer tactics, instead find ways to bring people together.    THEY need to be transparent in their dealings so the public knows what is going on.  THEY need to remember that they serve the people of the United States of America and by oath our country, not their or other’s bottom lines.

Finally, we all need to remember that we are Americans first and all else follows second.  If this country falls, we all fall; if our politicians don’t do what is best for us first, then we need to exercise our rights and impeach them for fraudulent promises made to get them elected.   As Americans, we have the right to speak out and to hold our government’s feet to the fire of our anger and can use our rights to remove from office any politician that does not take the country’s needs into account first. We also need to remember to bring civility back to our discourses and let our words not encourage violence. We do not have the right to stir others to such a heated pitch that they take vigilante actions even if they are mentally ill.

America is knee deep in alligators so to speak and we all need to find ways to work together to bring us out of the swamp.  The energy spent on hate, rhetoric and pointing fingers by our government would be better used to work with ALL Americans to find solutions to jobs, housing and affordable medical care.  I agree with Thomas Jefferson that a little rebellion is good for the country, however, let’s focus that rebellion towards the WHOLE government and stop the corruption of our system instead of attacking individuals in it.  In my opinion to use an old saying, “if you put them all in a bag and shook it up, none of them would come to the top”; every one of our representatives is guilty in this chaotic mess we are in, the real blame lies with them for allowing it to go this far.

Speed Limiters

Speed Limiters

By Sandy Long

Speed limiters are back in the news once again as Washington scrambles to appear to be doing something, anything right in the minds of the general public. Once again, however, they are off the mark.

Recognizing that accidents involving trucks results in fatalities and incredible amounts of damage no matter who is at fault, the government and special interest groups are using flawed statistics and sensationalism to push forward speed limiters as another one size fits all fix to the problem. Sympathy of course goes out to anyone who looses a loved on in an accident of any kind, but blaming the accident involving a truck on only speed is simplistic at best.

A gentleman recently related on a radio debate that he and his wife lost a child to a speeding truck driver who hit the car while using cruise control. Some might have caught that fact; that the driver was using cruise control. There in lies a real problem that should be addressed before speed limiters; that of using cruise control when inappropriate.

The use of cruise control is taught by companies who are struggling trying to keep fuel costs down. Drivers are pushed through fuel bonuses and threat of being fired for not meeting company expectations of fuel economy and are told to use cruise control more often than not. Some companies actually put up the print outs from the ECM listing driver’s percentages of fuel economy and cruise control use to encourage peer pressure to comply.

A driver who is so concentrated on fuel economy and the related push to use cruise control to avoid punishment financially is going to focus on that problem instead of using cruise control only when appropriate. This focus leads the driver to use the cruise in heavy traffic, two lane roads, construction sites, when fatigued and bad weather/road conditions. This type of use of cruise control leads to going too fast for conditions and lead to mistakes in judgment.

Limiting the speed of the truck also creates situations where the driver will push the truck against the governor in states where the speed limits are above the governed speed. This not only lowers fuel economy, but also creates elephant races where two trucks of the same speed are trying to pass each other leading to back ups and frustrated drivers.

Creating speed differentials between cars and trucks has been identified for years by organizations all over the country where there are different speeds for cars and trucks. Having one vehicle going faster than any other vehicle can cause rear end crashes very easily if one driver is not paying close attention. Furthermore, it can lead to more lane changes and statistics show that changing lanes is one of the most common causes of wrecks.

A better use of government and special interest groups’ energy would be in promoting better training for both companies and drivers to make the highways safer. However, better training and stronger training regulations will not generate income for anyone and would take away the carrot dangled in front of drivers to keep the company bottom line healthy.