Just the other week, on my normal route from Laredo to Charlotte, I came across some overhead signs warning me that Interstate 10 was closed at the 612-mile marker, due to a crash. For those of you that have been following my blog, there is an ongoing initiative called Project 70+/10. This project involves cruising at speeds up to 75 miles per hour where safe, legal, and applicable. It’s possible, on my normal run to Charlotte, which is 1,382 miles, to make it to my destination in Charlotte in two days flat, with proper planning and cruising at the posted speed limits. This enables me to take my 10-hour rest break, while my trailer is being unloaded and reloaded. Project 70+/10 has allowed me to eliminate an extra 10-hour break in each direction of my trip. This project’s main goal has been to attain double-digit fuel economy while cruising at these higher speeds. So far, double-digit fuel economy averages have not happened, however, I am completing my trip twenty-plus hours sooner, due to two ten-hour breaks being eliminated.
So, with all I mentioned above, having roads closed does not fit the plan. A few simple delays on this route will add a ten-hour break to my trip in a heartbeat. So, as one might expect, my heart sank as I read the information on the sign indicating the road ahead was closed due to a crash. My first thought was, “I need to find a place up ahead to stop,” (so that I could save my driving time on my logbooks, and evaluate if there was a good alternate route around the incident). I stopped at the TA travel center in San Antonio, TX to evaluate the situation, and hopefully talk to other drivers coming Westbound on I10, to find out the severity of the incident. Shortly after I stopped, I talked to a driver who had seen the situation, and he informed me that it was a fatal accident. He’d seen that there was a person covered up on the side of the highway. At this point, I knew that the highway wasn’t going to be opening back up any time soon. I started looking at traffic maps online and in my atlas to chart a course around this unfortunate situation. I found a good route on US 90 and I went through some towns I had never driven through. At this point, I had some time to reflect on this delay and how it was going to affect my trip, but it quickly shifted to, “Somebody’s dead, they did not make it home!”. As I drove through the small towns and saw people with their families, it made me reflect on how easy it is to get into too much of a hurry. Being in a hurry is an easy trap to fall into while working in the trucking industry, as we’re typically paid by the mile and regulated by the hour.
This whole day was a great reminder to me that there isn’t a single shipment you can deliver that’s worth risking your life, or someone else's life, being in a hurry, to get there sooner. I often see people trying to make up time in construction zones, urban areas, and other places where speed can quickly put you in a precarious situation. It’s much better to get there late and be safe, rather than being in too big of a hurry, and not get there at all. Everyone, please be safe out there!