Drivers' Corner - Caring in Action

Have you ever tried to stop on a wet surface? The afternoon was overcast from a big shower that morning. I had a full load of wooden pallets on a 42' trailer.

I was in the fast lane with 4-wheeler beside me in the right lane. I had just checked my chains in the mirror when I looked forward to see the signal light go from caution to red.

My first inclination was to shut down but I was too close to the intersection and would have gone into a skid. That would have taken out the entire intersection.

Blowing my horn, everyone saw my dilemma and stopped except for one 4-wheeler. A lady driver entered from the left and crossed in front of me headed all the way over to the right lane.

I steered hard away from the 4-wheeler into a ditch to my right. There was a utility pole straight ahead and I was going to hit it dead center.

In the process, I caught her right front fender with my fuel tank and spun her under my trailer wheels. Her car was practically cut in half but she was not injured.

I stood up in the cab trying to turn away from the pole, but to no avail. Suddenly, the earth stiffened and the tractor grabbed.

It swerved immediately to the left - missing the pole. Due to the quick turn, however, the trailer leaned over almost turning over.

The wooden pallets were sheared off the trailer by the utility pole as I rubbed the trailer on the pole trying to get away from it. The pallets stacked around the pole as if ready for a bonfire.

Obviously, I was at fault. I should have followed these simple procedures:

1. Make speed adjustments for road conditions for inclement weather. If raining, freezing, snowing, and etc. drive at a slower pace.

2. Understand that stopping on a wet surface requires double the distance. When traveling 55 mph, over 200 feet is required for a dry surface to stop. It takes approximately 450 feet on a wet surface.

3. Maintain control of your space by being aware of what is going on around you at all times. It is important to watch your load; city driving is different from rural highway driving.

Bottom line: Heavier traffic requires more attention to the road in front of you.

That's the way I see it - Bob Hataway - TransAlive.