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One of the more stressful parts of driving a tractor trailer is city driving. Mountain driving is as well, but that’s another post. And when I say city driving, I am talking about the BIG cities. The ones with 6-7 lanes of traffic in just one direction. People will tell you that it is not a big deal. Let me tell you this: when you are just starting out, it is a huge deal. It is a scary and nerve wracking time.
Why Is City Driving So Tough?
There is so much going on around you, so much to watch out for, and so many dangers. That’s when you really need to take a deep breath and relax your shoulders. When people tell you to put on your blinker, count to three and then move over because you are so big that traffic will let you over…they’re wrong. That is just not true. Remember that most 4 wheelers (cars) see you as a payday…a never-have-to-work-another-day-in-their-life payday and a you-will-never-work-in-the-trucking-industry-again payday. They won’t be forgiving.
You will not get out of the cities in a reasonable amount of time during certain times of the day unless the stars and the moon align and the gods are looking down on you. You have to be on your game. You have to be. The best way to protect yourself from being blamed for an accident, if you are ever involved and it wasn’t your fault, is to have a dash cam. That way, you can prove what you say, otherwise you will be held responsible until proven you are innocent.
Can You Make It Easier?
Not only do you have to watch the road signs when city driving, you also have to watch the traffic all around you. The best place, I thought, is to be in the second lane. Why? Well, a few different reasons. If you have a lot of traffic coming onto the highway, you will not have to worry about them running into you; getting off at the next exit it is not as hard when you’re only navigating over one lane; and if you have to get to the left exit it is a little easier getting over there most of the time. In the second or third lane, depending on if they let trucks in those lanes, you will not have to slam on the brakes as much for traffic coming on the highway.
Is The Traffic That Bad?
It is a love/hate relationship with traffic. The bypasses can be just as bad at times. Most of the time, it is better to go around. When I first started driving, the bypass was my go-to route. It is a little slower paced at times, and maybe a little longer, but the flow of traffic is better most of the time. There are some cities where you will wait in traffic either way you decide to go. Just slow down and really pay attention. It is not a time to grab a soda or whatever you are drinking.
Following distance is another big, big, big issue in the trucking world today. The rules of trucking 101 focus on following distance as well as distractions. Most of the accidents involving big trucks that we have seen out on the road are rear-end collisions. You will hear people say that you will not get hurt in a big truck because you are so high up and the truck is so big, but that’s a lie. Many drivers are seriously injured and some even die in these types of accidents. Do not listen to what some of these drivers say. Look at the big picture. These trucks today are made of fiberglass and plastic. They do not hold up well in any accident. Most new drivers think they have to run a hundred miles an hour. They do not realize that taking the little extra time will save lives, time, money, and aggravation. You are the captain of your ship. You are the only one that can make the decision for being safe.
So, What’s The Gist?
In the cities, people are always in a hurry, distracted, and sometimes angry. They don’t look properly before they do anything. The responsibility for the safety of you, the load, and the public, as well as your livelihood, relies on you. That is why they say YOU are the professional driver…..however it doesn’t mean you can’t yell, swear, and complain about others while driving. It will only give you stress, high blood pressure, and shorter life. Just sit back in your seat, let them make the wrong decisions, and deal with the consequences. As long as you keep control, that’s what matters.