A warning and a rant
Folks, I would really appreciate it if you would take this to heart, not just for your own safety but for the safety of others.
First a little background. I drive an 18 wheeler in and around Atlanta pretty much all day, I've seen some crazy, stupid, and downright dangerous things in my driving career, but none top what happened to me yesterday on I-285 just before rush hour.
A young person, late teens to early 20 something in a new no tag yet BMW, decides that he can not only out accelerate me but also stop faster than I can, he is correct in this belief but only so far as I will explain.
As a professional driver I make it my habit to be courteous and safe when operating my 75 foot, 60,000+ lbs of vehicle, I try very hard to leave a safe distance between me and the vehicle in front of me, why you ask, well let me tell you.
It takes an 18 wheeler 6 seconds to begin to stop, 2 seconds from the time my brain says begin stopping to hit the brakes, 2 seconds for the air brakes to begin applying pressure to the pads, and 2 seconds for the brakes to begin to stop the vehicle, 6 seconds in total just to start the stopping process. It takes 300yds to bring a fully loaded 18 wheeler to a stop from 65mph under normal circumstances :shock: Keep this info in the back of your mind it will help you visualize the results of what could have happened yesterday.
Junior, who is in a serious hurry, decides to pass me, not on the left but on the right in the emergency lane, I couldn't believe what I was seeing in my mirror and now my attention has been diverted from what's happening 8-10 seconds in front of me to what's happening beside me and directly in front of me. I'm not sure what was going through his head but I can tell you it wasn't a smart thought, a conscious decision to be stoopid though. About half way into passing me he notices a vehicle who had been in the emergency lane and was trying to merge back into traffic, moving quite a bit slower than either of us, junior punches the go pedal to get around me and beat the vehicle that is merging back into traffic, I have instinctively already taken my foot off the throttle but not yet applied any brakes, what he didn't count on and I didn't expect was that vehicle beating him to the punch and abruptly pulling out in front of both of us, I now realize that traffic is coming to a stop in front of us and that, folks, is a serious problem. I'm now on the brakes hard (remember the 6 seconds I talked about earlier?), air horn blaring away and a slew of profanities running through my mind with the thought that if any of us lived through the wreck that was sure to follow I was going to do bodily harm to both idiots. My following distance had been abruptly cut in fourth, and traffic was now coming to a very hard stop ahead, no way in hell to stop in time now with the 2 added vehicles in front of me no matter how hard I stomped on the brake pedal, the saving grace for all of us came in form of the now vacant emergency lane which I took.
When we all finally stopped, I was looking down through the sunroof at the totally oblivious idiot who had pulled out from the emergency lane, and junior in the BMW was staring at drive axles of my tractor with a look of absolute terror on his face, realizing just how close he'd come to death. If I had not been able to get into the emergency lane junior would not have stopped until I did and there's no telling whether he would have been attached to front of my truck or under it, neither one a healthy place to be. I pulled over a little farther into the emergency lane and got out of my truck to take a few deep breaths, praise the good Lord, thank my guardian angel, and count my blessings. Things could have been a whole lot worse.
My point here is twofold, please understand that big trucks do not stop on a dime and there's a reason that most big truck drivers leave that room in front of us, we need it! Secondly, now matter how good you think you are behind the wheel you are not invincible and events that are out of anyone's control are bound to happen at the worst possible time.
Junior got off at the next exit, 1/4 of a mile away, whether that was where he needed to exit to reach his destination or where he got off to clean his pants and seat out I have no idea, but one thing I hope and pray for is that he learned a valuable lesson yesterday, I know I did.
Please Please Please, be careful and considerate on the roads, the life you save may be your own.
Sorry to be long winded but I want each and every one of you folks, young or old to realize that a little patience and some common sense will go a long way and make everyones travels safer not just during silly season but throughout the year as well.