Do you practice S.A.F.E.?
CDL truck driver training requires extensive training, miles of experience and personal dedication; which makes CDL truck drivers some of the safest drivers on the roads. At all times, you must maintain an alertness to be S.A.F.E., (Stay Alert For Everything). By everything, I mean sometimes it’s not other drivers you need to watch out for. Occasionally it’s weird weather conditions! I’d like to share with you the following experience that occurred with one of Contracted Driver Services long-time and much in-demand drivers. (Tim has given us permission to publicize his story).
Big Rig and the Microburst
Our driver, Tim, recounted the following episode:
On Thursday, 08/06/15, our driver was traveling I-10 eastbound from California back to Phoenix, AZ when he topped a hill about mile marker 21. He noticed a large wall of rain, hail, dust and debris heading directly toward him from the east with a similar front rapidly approaching from the mountainous area from the north. There were several cloud to ground lightning strikes accompanying the front approaching from the north. The driver’s quick thinking allowed him to safely pull his tractor trailer off the roadway after he felt the entire vehicle start to shake and shift from the cross winds. His load consisted of just a few items that weighed maybe 300 pounds; making his trailer virtually empty.
Just as the driver got his rig stopped on the road shoulder and popped his air brakes both weather fronts hit his truck simultaneously from the east and from the north. At this point, the driver felt his truck starting to lean over precariously. He pushed the steering wheel all the way up, moved his armrest to the upright position and braced himself for the inevitable. The winds created a vortex just outside the truck with the driver describing brush and debris swirling in a circular manner accompanied by the often described “freight train roar” commonly associated with tornadoes. All of this just outside his truck window! The winds did push the entire rig on its side.
The driver stated he blinked just momentarily to keep the windshield glass from his eyes. When he opened his eyes, he found half of the driver windshield had blown outward and the wind had sucked all of the loose items out of the cab. Even the driver’s Bluetooth was sucked out of his ear!
Tim found himself hanging sideways in his seat secured by the safety belt. At that same moment, the weather vortex continued westward along I-10. The driver released the safety belt whereby he landed on the topside interior of the cab. The driver understood the importance of getting out of the cab as quickly as possible. The engine was still on causing diesel fuel to spill out of the tanks. The driver dreadfully thought, “….all I need now is a spark”. Tim reached over, turned off the ignition and climbed out of the broken windshield to survey the damage and collect the windblown paperwork and loose items from the cab that were strewn on the ground. He was slightly injured by the fall and has a mark on his arm from where the safely belt kept him secure in his seat.
When the Highway Patrol arrived Tim, although stunned, was able to recount the experience in a clear and concise manner.
In conclusion, Tim’s decisions and quick actions were based on Safety to himself, the rig and other drivers; 1) being aware of his surroundings and the rapidly changing weather conditions, 2) anticipating the possible outcome of encountering these weather conditions, 3) preparing the rig to cause the least amount of damage to himself and other drivers and 4) maintaining a clear, level-headed approach to the situation after the danger had passed.
Tim is to be commended for all of his safety-based actions.
We all agree that Tim was lucky to not have sustained significant injuries to himself and other drivers from this mishap. Tim was S.A.F.E.R., (Stayed Alert For Everything Rolling); even 2 converging weather systems rolling his way!
With the seasonal weather change, nationwide, already upon us. We remind all CDL drivers to heighten your awareness and be ready for changing weather and road conditions. Just some of the weather concerns with the upcoming seasonal weather changes are:
·Roads made slick by precipitation
·Higher elevation snow
·Glassy looking roads (especially at night)
·Lack of spray from other vehicles on supposedly wet roads
·Random patches of ice
·Snow caked roads (with or without ice underneath)
·Double and triple check your blind spots
·Reduce speed in work zones
·Reduce speed on curves
·Check cargo is secure from shifting
·Don’t follow too closely
·Allow extra stopping distance on questionable road surfaces
A major concern now is the increase in holiday traffic, (motorists and deliveries), schools letting out for the holidays and seasonal increase in wildlife movement. Daylight hours are growing shorter, so greater risk to drivers experiencing highway hypnosis, driving tired or in a rush to get to their destination. We ask everyone to be extra S.A.F.E. It’s worthwhile to take a few minutes to stop for a break to refresh yourself, dial your radio or CB to check weather and road conditions or to call a loved one to let them know you’ll be home a little later than expected but you’ll be home SAFE.
The Staff of Contracted Driver Services encourages you First and foremost – S.A.F.E.T.Y. (Stay Alert For Every Thing Y’all).