You Were Doing … What?


Distractions have advanced faster than our capabilities of dealing with them. Don't get me wrong. There have always been distractions. They don't have to be electronic. It can be that attractive person that momentarily distracts you from the road. It can be a billboard. It can be anything.


Many years ago, before cell phones, I came upon a different sight. It was twilight, foggy, and drizzly. It was on I 865 near Indianapolis. Something did not look right. There was no traffic and I slowed the truck down. What I saw was a scary sight. The dirty side of a semi tanker was facing me. It was laying on the driver's side. It was dark. The cab was in the left lane. The trailer was in the median. Horrible thoughts went through my mind. I did what I was supposed to do. I secured the scene by putting my flashers on and the triangles behind my truck.


Then I approached the truck. Who new what I would find? Truly, I thought the driver might be badly injured, or worse. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to it. Then, the dome light came on. The driver was moving around. He was able to climb out through the passenger window. Imagine how high that passenger window was above the ground. Together we were able to get him safely to the ground.


What happened? It seemed like a reasonable question. The driver explained. He had dropped a lit cigarette. It fell on the floor. As he was looking for it, the truck veered into the median. The attempt to steer it back onto the highway resulted in a roll over. Just then the state trooper arrived. He asked me if I had seen the accident. “nope” He said to get my truck out of the way, that I was causing a traffic jam. No problem – I left. Never did hear what that driver told that cop.


This week I saw a picture of a wrecked truck. The driver wrecked a truck as he was pulling a tooth-really! I thought that I had heard or seen it all. Apparently I haven't. We have all seen lots of things going on in cars that pass us. I have seen people playing instruments, reading books or newspapers. There have been the live peep shows. We have always had distractions.


Electronics take it to a new level. There are people who have had cell phones since before they were driving. I have seen people riding their bicycles with a phone to their ear. They seem to have a compulsion to answer a text – immediately.


Personally, I will always think back to that tanker yanker. I wonder what he told the police happened. Then I hope that I am never in a spot that I am going to ashamed to explain.

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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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