Anyone that has flown knows the drill. After waiting in line to clear TSA, sitting at your gate waiting for boarding instructions, then waiting in line again to board the plane, you find your seat, place your carry-on in the overhead bin, and sit down. Finally...a bit of a break.

Soon the flight attendant draws your attention to the front where they start going over safety instructions, how to fasten your seatbelts, where the emergency exits are, etc. Most people, I dare say, tune them out. After all, the seat may be a flotation device, but the entire flight is over land. Why should we listen, especially when we have heard the same announcement over and over again? But there is some important information being handed out and it could save your life. For instance, where is the nearest exit? Where are the other exits?

Many times we fail to realize there is another way out. That is why flight attendants tell us to look for the nearest exit and use it in case of an emergency. They also point to all exits so we are familiar with their location. Knowing your options can save your life. The door behind you may be the safest way out, but it may not be the closest. So, what does this all have to do with truck driving?

Every day we see it. A truck breaks down and has to pull off onto the side of the road. The driver is usually outside of the truck waiting for someone to come change the tire or take care of whatever other problem may need taken care of. But how did the driver get out of the truck?

More likely than not, the driver checked their mirror, waited for traffic to clear, quickly got out of the cab and hustled to the other side of the truck. But why? That's the door that was used to enter the cab and it is closest to the driver. It was also the quickest. But was it the safest? Probably not. The passenger door, while a little more difficult to exit, may actually be the safest to use in this situation. Yet, we rarely think to use it.

Why wouldn't we though? We complain about traffic not moving over when we are stranded on the side of the road, but most of us get out on that side anyway. Seems kind of ridiculous, doesn't it?

So even though breakdowns are not something we have to deal with very often, next time you do, think about using that passenger side door. It may save your life.

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Clark W Reed

Clark Reed of Roscoe, Illinois is an OTR company driver and trainer for Nussbaum Transportation based out of Hudson, Illinois. He has been driving since 2005 and has driven van, reefer, and tanker. He currently hauls dry van to all lower 48 states. Clark is passionate about MPGs and how driver habits influence them. The lifetime average of his 2018 Cascadia is 9.75 mpg, with eyes on 10. Clark, along with Henry Albert, was one of the seven drivers in 2017's "Run on Less" by NACFE, a road show, demonstrating what fuel efficiency can be obtained with existing technologies.

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