Monday, February 9, 2009

Big Blue Truck

My husband has been an over-the-road trucker for a long time. He’s away more than he’s home, and we’re glad to have his infrequent off-times. We place our faith in God for his safety and also trust his exceptional driving skills.

If anyone was born to be a truck driver, it is he. He has driven hundreds of thousands of miles over the years, to every state in the continental United States except California (I don’t know why). Yet, he never seems to grow weary of the drive—always alert and with rapidfire reflexes, I have seen him avert accidents that less conscientious drivers surely would have suffered.

Sadly, though, there have been times when he has encountered tragedies on the road. It happened just yesterday afternoon as he was headed northbound on Rt. 27 outside of Blakeley, Georgia, on his way to today’s Cincinnati delivery. The driver of the big blue rig carrying a load of hot dogs apparently fell asleep at the wheel. Either he hit the pickup truck who hit the backhoe, or the other way around, but the big blue rig ultimately hit a tree and turned over on its side.

My husband came upon the wreckage just as the dust was settling, with cars and trucks and cops and ambulances in a huge bottleneck in the middle of the freeway. Concerned with the two vehicles that were hit, everyone was crowded around the pickup and the backhoe, and the driver of the big blue rig was still inside. My husband quickly grabbed the tire thumper from his own truck and broke the driver’s window to help him out, without pulling, only supporting him, to prevent any possible further injuries. Fortunately, the driver appeared to be okay, and despite his protests, officials insisted he be transported to the nearest hospital. The pickup driver was also uninjured, but it was unclear at the time if the backhoe driver would survive. With traffic tied up for 2 ½ hours, my husband could do nothing but wait and silently pray for the welfare of the other drivers.

One hears so much about truckers failing to use safe driving procedures and causing accidents due to negligence, fatigue, or worse. But as a trucker’s wife who has heard years of first-hand experiences from her husband, I am certain that trucker-caused accidents, like this one, are not the norm. While twelve percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States are caused because of truck accidents, the truck driver is not usually the one who is mainly at fault. On the contrary, more than 75% of all truck accidents are caused because of an error of the driver of other smaller vehicles involved in the crash. In fact, take a look at truck accident statistics

Still, with 4669 fatal big truck accidents in 2003 (out of 58,512 fatal auto crashes), 25% of the 12% is still way too high. I pray daily that my husband will never be one of those statistics. In this case, foregoing safety precautions such as downtime and sleep, nourishment, speed limits, and preparedness in an effort to “go the extra mile” just isn’t worth the risk.


Lauren said...

It is interesting to read the perspective of the wife of a truck driver. Thanks for sharing.

Junosmom said...

Wow! That is a scary photo - glad Dave helped the guy. My nephew is also a big-rig driver and has already seen bad wrecks.