December 28th, 2009 -- Respect for the Truckers

18wheelYou’re in a hurry.  You need to get Sally at soccer practice … you’re late for a business meeting … you just need to pick up some groceries and get home …  And then it happens.  A tractor trailer is turning right up ahead and taking up 2 lanes!  The nerve!  It’s a good thing the kids aren’t in the car to hear what you just said.

But let’s stop for a minute.  Just stop and think about all that the guys and gals who drive these rigs do for us.  And then let’s think about all the crap that they have to put up with.


Next time you’re in your favourite grocery store, look at the shelves laden with fresh produce and food.  When you’re at the gas pump, think about those huge tanks underground that store the precious petrol you’re putting in your car.  When you’re buying clothes or Christmas presents check out the amazing selection you see in the stores.

Where does all this stuff come from?  How did it all get here?  Well, the answer to the first question is “everywhere”.  The answer to the second is “trucks”.  That’s right — those big, smelly, slow, aggravating tractor-trailers.

Not just convenience is tied to trucking.  Manufacturers are dependent on trucks to have supplies of parts and to deliver their products.  While trains, planes and boats play a big part, trucks are the major carriers of goods in our society.

I’ve heard it said that 3 days is all it would take for the economy to shut down it trucks stopped running.  No fresh produce.  No fuel.  Manufacturing would shut down.

Driving a Truck

Truck drivers work long hours.  Some drive throughout North America picking up such cargo as fresh fruit and vegetables from Florida or California in the middle of winter for snowbound northerners.  Others deliver packages, or pick up our trash, or clear the snow from our roadways.  Hours spent on the roads, putting up with the things that other drivers do to them.

Sure there are some bad truck drivers.  There are bad people in every job.  But the fact is that most of the drivers are good, hard working people who are doing their best to make our lives easier.

Put yourself in the position of a truck driver.  Trucks are huge.  They need more room to turn, to stop, to accelerate.  They need more room for just about everything that they do.  When a truck driver is half way into the 2nd lane for a right hand turn, that is because they need that extra room to keep the trailer off the sidewalk.  When a truck in front of you is going too slow, remember that they’re hauling tons of produce.  A truck can’t accelerate like your Indy car.

And think about the blind spots in a truck.  I’m sure you’ve had an experience with someone sitting in your blind spot — you can’t see them in your mirror and they’re just far enough back that you can’t see them beside you.  But start your lane change and there they are!  The blind spots for a truck driver are massive.  The windows on a truck are higher than most other vehicles on the road.  Remember that when your on the passenger side of a truck, especially if you’re in front of the mirrors — they can’t see you there!  The blind spot in front of a truck is big enough to lose a pickup truck in.  And they can’t see anything at all behind them.

So, stay away from the blind spots.  Pass a truck quickly and if you ever find yourself on the right side of a truck get out of there as fast as you can safely do it!  There is a reason for the <-Passing Side / Suicide -> bumper stickers you see on some trucks.

Don’t cut in front of a truck and then slow down.  They can’t stop as fast as you can (plus you’re back in a blind spot).  Give them some room.


Trucks can be an aggravation when we are stuck behind them and they slow us down.  But they are the blood of our economy — moving goods to where they need to be and removing wastes.  So next time a truck driver slows you down for a few seconds, rather than saying “@!**!” why not simply say “Thanks”.

This post was written by Bill Nickerson, a blogger, trainer and web developer who is also Sylvie’s husband.  He has developed and delivered training for the trucking industry (Hours of Service, Pre-Trip Inspections and Cargo Securement) as well as technology.