I learned something very important Monday night. If a semi (truck) “bumps” your car straight on from behind, and you are going more or less the same speed (obviously he would be going a little faster), it may not really hurt your car.
I take a class Monday nights at a town that is about 30 miles from here. I use a freeway to get there. All was good until I needed to exit. The freeway was full of semis. They travel in the right lane, which is also where the exits are (go figure).
Trying to not create too much havoc, I found a spot between a car and a semi. I moved over then checked my rearview mirror to make sure I hadn’t cut him off. I could see the entire front end. I thought the rule was if you can see the driver, he can see you. Once again, all was well. Emphasis on “I thought”.
I am really bad about using my mirrors unless I am going to turn or change lanes or whatever. (Do they really expect you to scan them every 30 seconds? I’d run into something in front of me.)
For some reason I looked again, and he was closer. I thought that he must have been one of those jerk drivers who try to intimidate small cars. (I drive an Elantra).
Semi drivers are usually pretty good drivers and I was almost to my exit, so I figured it was just an annoyance. Silly me. I looked again. He was almost on top of me.
Something hit me from behind. Yep. The exit was about 200 yards too far away. It’s amazing how hard a semi can hit even at a low speed. I guess they really are the ones destroying our roads.
I was extremely annoyed. I need the car for work, and I’m sharing it with my son. I didn’t have time to take it to the shop. And apparently cars don’t have frames anymore. It’s all magic and fiberglass. Besides it’s only seven months old. And I was going to be late for class.
So I stopped on the side of the exit. I stomped to the back of my car. It was a little dirty (my fault), but I didn’t see anything wrong. Then I realized I hadn’t heard any crunch or breaking plastic (or glass or whatever they use). Maybe they really do use magic.
The truck driver came over to see if I was OK. He said he hadn’t seen me and bumped into me. Ummmm, OK. You’re a professional driver. Don’t they train you to look for merging traffic? But he was very nice, and I sent him on his way. Then he was very relieved.
If you look at where we live, you would see that it’s difficult to get anywhere without using a freeway. Many lakes mean no major roads. So I have a lot of experience with semis. I realized that this wasn’t my most annoying encounter. At least it was a one-time occurrence.
To get to several of the places I frequent, I have to take a four-lane freeway. That’s four lanes in the sense of two lanes going in each direction. It’s not really a bad drive, even in rush hour. In comparison with rush hour on other freeways around here.
However, it is the major north-south freeway in this part of the state. Which means a lot of trucks hauling a lot of stuff during the morning rush hour. A lot of heavy stuff. Trucks carrying heavy stuff aren’t supposed to go really fast. The speed limit theoretically is 55 mph on the 70 mph freeway. So they’re in the right lane.
Every once in a while, a large heavy truck wants to go 60 mph. So he has to pull into the “fast lane”. Which is no longer the “fast lane”. Once the driver gets out from behind the slow truck, he realizes that he can’t zip around another big truck like he does in his pick-up. So everyone goes slow for a while.
That is far more irritating than the semis that drive in Detroit during rush hour. I generally hold back for them which makes me very unpopular with the drivers behind me.
Some people don’t like to be behind semis. So they don’t let them in. Finally the truck driver gets frustrated and forces the truck between two cars. That really irks the drivers on the freeway. The cars behind the truck on the entry ramp are not so upset.
Some people hate being behind semis on snowy roads. Not me. They are usually excellent drivers. Full trucks are slow, but so am I. They very rarely swerve or skid. They pack down snow nicely, and it’s still warm when I go over it so I don’t have to worry about ice. And people don’t get mad at me for going slow. They blame the truck.
Moral of the story: Most truck drivers aren’t like the guy in ‘Duel’ (a surprisingly good 1971 TV movie about a psycho truck driver, directed by Steven Spielberg). However, if it looks like one is going to run you over, use your horn to make sure it’s not intentional.
6 thoughts on “Who Taught You How to Drive?”
I had a car come up behind me in the middle lane of our three-lane beltway here, Cat, with his lights blinking on and off. I had nowhere to go to the right and I was the steady speed of traffic in my lane. Instead of slowing down, he hit me square in the back of my car and pushed me. Thankfully the car in front of me saw me and went faster and everybody around me beeped their horns until the guy broke off and pulled around me to the left and zipped away. I damn near had a heart attack. When I got to my exit and got home two miles later and inspected my car, I saw there was no damage!
What are people thinking? It’s amazing how well cars stand up to that kind of thing.
I am glad your Elantra passed the tractor trailer test, Cat. The car I was driving home from work in rush traffic that day, was, in fact, also an Elantra. Good work there.
Gee – maybe it really did pass that safety test they brag about.
Scary experience, the important thing is that you were not injured. I find that if I look in my rear view mirror vehicles seem further back than when I look in your side mirror then they seem much closer. I drive a Toyota, not sure if this is the same for all cars.
It probably works the same way. I’m thinking the answer may be to start driving a tank. Slow but safe.