Contributing author Joey Slaughter is the owner of Blue Ridge Transport, LLC. A Ringgold, VA based carrier. Joey started his company in 2010 after serving time as an unhappy employee with a local trucking company. The time spent there was not fun but, in hindsight, was a turning point that propelled Joey into the wonderful world of being an entrepreneur. Please visit JoeySlaughter.net for more insightful blogging.
About two weeks ago, I was 2 hours from home on a four lane state highway through the mountains of Virginia. Up ahead, I saw headlights on my side of the road coming my way. It was a heavily wooded median so I knew the lights that I saw were in my travel lanes.
This is how my mind processed the information my eyes were seeing in about one second.
- I questioned myself, “am I on a two lane or a four lane road?”
- “I’m on a four lane so that may be a cop trying to take a quick short cut.”
- “It’s a bunch of teenagers goofing off and playing chicken.”
- “It’s a drunk driver or someone having a medical emergency.”
As the vehicle got closer, I could see he was in my left lane (his right lane) and I pulled over as far to the right as I could, slowing down as much as possible. I flipped my lights to high beam and he started to swerve over at me as if he was trying to hit me head on. He made contact with my tractor at the drive axles, just missing the fuel tank by a couple of feet. His pickup truck continued to make contact with my step deck trailer all the way down before he hit the guard rail behind me. After the sparks settled, the pickup driver had broken all four of my outside wheels and busted all my outside tires from the tractor drives to the rear of the trailer. Along the trip to the rear of the trailer, he damaged my toolbox, rub rails of the trailer as well as cut 3 straps that were securing the load of paving stones. Fortunately, the load was not damaged.
The pickup driver was charged with DUI and arrested at the scene.
As I review the crash in my mind, I don’t think I’d do anything differently. I also believe that this was a decent outcome considering there were about 4 vehicles behind me at the time of the crash. A head on collision with any one of them would’ve probably been fatal.
After the crash, my loaded trailer had to sit by the highway all night. I was able to remove the two outside tires on my tractor and bobtail to a small fuel stop that night in order to get off the road. My vehicle couldn’t be towed as it was loaded and had four broken wheels and four flat tires.
I was prepared.
- I had emergency food and water in the truck which was good because I was stuck there all night and store was closed.
- I had extra cargo straps to secure the load because three of them were damaged in crash.
- I contacted the broker to let her know about wreck and that I would miss appointment.
- I had a good flashlight and reflective clothing on hand
The bottom line is that we don’t know what’s coming around the next curve. Our date to meet the Creator can come in as quickly as a sudden wind so we must always do everything we can to be safe. Unfortunately not everyone is doing their part.