Just Smile and Stay Safe

Truck driver Joel Shorey was sometimes picked on when he was in grade school because of his then small stature and frame. But he knew how to handle the bullies on the playground. He ignored them. Today Shorey is still good at dealing with bullies, but now he’s tackling them on the nation’s highways.

Shorey, a driver for Smithway Motor Xpress, won the Colorado Independent Publisher’s Association’s humor award in June for his book on road rage, Bullies Behind the Wheel: How Your Reactions to Aggressive Drivers Can Cause Road Rage or Prevent It. The book is a light-hearted approach to handling aggressive drivers.

“The number one factor in safe driving is not quick reflexes,” Shorey says. “The most important factor is the attitude of the driver.”

It’s important that drivers don’t let aggressive drivers cause them to react foolishly, he says. Instead of getting angry with reckless drivers, he suggests that sensible drivers simply laugh at the situation.

“You have to be able to let some of that roll off your back,” Shorey says, speaking of cut-off kings, merging maniacs and chronic tailgaters.

This method seems to have worked well for Shorey. He’s driven more than 2 million miles without any accidents or moving violations.

Shorey says that during his 13 years of professional truck driving he noticed certain patterns of bad driving. While he doesn’t react negatively to the aggressive drivers he does take note of their habits and that, he says, has educated him to the point where he knows when and where to expect reckless driving and what to do to prevent an accident.

“And I still have most of my sanity,” he laughs.

Shorey, who went into trucking in the late 1980s after an unfulfilling job as a financial planner, has been a flatbed owner/operator with Smithway for six years. He bought his own truck and trailer in 1993 and regularly hauls oversized equipment to mines in Alaska and Canada.

“The point of my book is to demonstrate the proper attitude in dealing with aggressive drivers,” Shorey says. With splashes of humor throughout, he does this by giving common examples of foolish driving and practical ways to preventing road rage and accidents.

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“The number one cause of accidents is that the other driver does something unexpected,” he says. “You’re two steps ahead of the other drivers because you know what’s coming.”

Al Hellenthal, director of driver services at Smithway, says he’s not surprised that Shorey has had such success with his book. “Joel is well-rounded and self-sufficient,” he says.

Shorey’s advice to aggressive drivers: “You need to take your emotions out of driving. If you feel like you need to go ‘zoom, zoom, go do it on a track.”

Bullies Behind The Wheel may be ordered by calling (866) DRIVE35 or directly from the publisher at bulliesbehindthewheel.com. It is also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and at other bookstores for $14.95. An audio version, read by the author, is available for $19.95.