Give Ps a chance

| January 03, 2006

But even with patience, professionalism, planning, predisposition and prayer going for a driver, unpreventable stuff still happens. Other motorists run stop signs, tailgate, doze off or don’t pay attention and cause what seem to be unavoidable accidents that can mar an otherwise clean safety record.

So providence, or good luck, seems to be part of reaching million-mile, accident-free goals. High winds blow other trucks off a slick, icy highway, but not yours. A motorist in the next lane falls asleep and, as you lay on the horn and try to get away, he drifts over, bumps your trailer, wakes up and straightens out his vehicle: no harm done.

Providence is beyond a driver’s control, and only fools count on it.

But the smart drivers – the accident-free million milers – know that providence will more likely be with them if they practice the first five Ps every day.

“Always be willing to learn something,” Rouse says.

“Be careful, pay attention and be patient,” says Vinson.

“The older drivers really know what they’re doing,” Vandenburg says. “Ask for advice.”

“Three things for success, and this is true in any industry,” Thayer says. “You have to be safe in all things, you have to be on time, and you have to get along with people.”

Night Speed Causes Accidents
It’s easy for truckers to drive too fast at night, says R.E. West’s Safety Director Fred Thayer. “Don’t overdrive your headlights,” he says.

Thayer says stopping a big truck is a four-part procedure: “perception, reaction, brake lag and stopping distance,” he says. “So don’t be tailgating.” He explains why this is more crucial at night. “It takes the length of a football field to stop the vehicle at 55, and most headlights only shine that far, so if you’re going faster than 55 at night, you’re overdriving your lights.”

Thayer says collisions with animals on dark, lonely highways are preventable accidents. “I’m very strict on that,” he says. “Most drivers say they never saw the deer.” He says that means they’re either driving too fast or have low beams on in a high-beam situation. “A deer lives and dies within a 2-mile radius of where it was born,” he says. “If you see a yellow warning sign for deer, slow down, hit your brights, and you’ll be able to see that deer down the road in time.”

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