Someday ask a professional driver, how often they know a four wheeler is going to change lanes before the car's signal comes on. For me it happens all of the time. Every driver I ask says the same thing. I play this “game” when I am driving the car with my wife. She will ask me how I know. There are clues. The car changes speeds. Maybe it changes lane positions. We can see when the driver's head moves. These are all hints.

As we age our reaction times slow down. On the skid pad there is an exercise where we go left or right depending on an electric arrow. An instructor controls the light. That instructor wants us at a certain speed and then drive around the cones in the direction of the arrow. I did this same training about 25 years ago and I excelled. Last year, I didn't. Once I anticipated and veered right, just as the arrow pointed left. I tried slowing down about 5 mph, they said that I couldn't do that. That is what I do in real life. Some of the modern weigh scales do the same thing. You had better not anticipate there. Slowing down is alright. I have had a trucker or two say something to me. At 5 mph under the station's max speed limit I have no problem and I tell the complaining driver that I am not as young as I used to be, they laugh and agree.

The ability to anticipate matters. When I drive, I am constantly trying to predict what those around me will do. I think that most of us do. It keeps us from having to make last second reactions. Those collision mitigation systems become moot when we act before they would. It is more than a Carly Simon song, or a ketchup commercial. It prevents us from having to react at the last second to avoid an impending collision. It is prevention over solutions.

Anticipation requires a higher degree of attention. If you are fiddling with the radio station, it lessens. When we are talking on the phone we don't anticipate as well. Anything that takes some of our attention away lessens our ability to anticipate. Anticipation matters. It makes us safer. It can also make us more profitable.

Proper anticipation can also increase your fuel mileage and reduce repair and maintenance costs. Every time we brake it costs us fuel. When we ease out of the accelerator it saves us. Experience matters.

Looking at the pictures, just how many scenarios are playing through the mind of the driver with the red Freightliner? An experienced driver would be ready for anything. What would be your first step?


Comments (2)

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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As they say Stephen - it beats the alternative. Thanks, and I do believe that this industry does not value experience enough.

December 12, 2015 10:12:40 AM

Good article, I totally agree with you Jeff. It is heck getting old! LOL

December 12, 2015 6:43:17 AM