The US Navy has had 4 "incidents" in the last few months. Two of them involved destroyers with updated technology. They collided with large commercial vessels. Seventeen of our finest lost their lives as a result of these collisions. It makes me wonder how this could happen and how we can prevent these collisions from happening in the future. These destroyers are 505 feet long and have a 31 foot beam. I would imagine that they don't stop or turn on a dime. Still, it boggles my mind that they did not know that there was a ship more than twice their size in their path, long before there was a threat of a collision.

In addition to being a math geek, I am also a bit of a news hound. Most of my driving day consists of listening to multiple news channels. One of the experts, said that we had become too reliant on modern technology. Was no one watching? I have a picture on my mind of someone in the crows nest with a pair of binoculars staying vigilant. Apparently this is not how it works on a modern warship. Maybe it should. I don't really know that much about these ships. I do know that like trucks, running into stuff is bad.

That does make me think about the modern trucks. Our safety systems are outstanding. My Detroit Assurance System is flat out awesome. Yes, I have heard "stories" about systems slamming on the brakes for no reason. No, I don't believe them. I have driven with systems for close to half a million miles. They have never stopped for no reason and a lot of these "stories" are not technologically feasible. To me the key is for the professional driver to remain vigilant and understand how and why the system works.

Trust yourself. Drivers tend to get fascinated by new stuff. Actual following distance is on display, and it is pretty cool. Stop looking at it. Look out the window. Trust your eyes and your experience. Yes, it is neat to see the display saying that the vehicle in front of you is 400 feet in front of you and wether it is getting closer. Don't fixate on that. We have been doing this a long time. Trust what you are seeing.

Do your job. Manage your own truck. Manage your own space. Yes, these mitigation systems are proving to reduce rear end collisions. That is a good thig. Yet, some how in almost 30 years behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle, I have avoided rear ending another vehicle. That is with or without this modernd technology. Learn how your system works and then do your job.

I believe in the professional driver. I beilieve in modern safety technology. The two are not mutually exclusive. Let's work together to save lives.

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Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, WI has been driving a truck for 24 years. He has been an owner operator for 11 years.

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