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By Jeff Gross, contributing writer
In a day where motorists are an ever
dangerous threat on the roads, and we wake up to daily – and nightly – horrific
accident reports – now truck drivers,
always thought of in the past as the safest drivers on the road, are crossing the line.
About a month ago I was on Route 95 South
in West Greenwich and had an eighteen wheeler pass me in the brake down
lane. I was upset at my brush with what would have been a terrible
accident. I was also concerned about this dangerous driver on the road, when I called
the company listed on the truck cab but received no answer.
I started conducting some research.
Good truck drivers are now hard to find and as a result some trucking companies
may be decreasing their basic qualifications to recruit more. (See Picture.)
A brief conversation with a
Massachusetts State Police DOT trooper gave me some insight. He noted that
some of the truck drivers cannot speak English (one wonders about reading signs
and rules). Some truck drivers are under the influence of marijuana. Even
though cannabis is legal in Massachusetts, operating while “under the
influence” of any substance is not. Bothersome facts to know while you are on the
While there are state to state
differences in getting a commercial truck driving license, there are certain
federal guidelines that must be adhered to. Here is one regarding
language: “Can read and speak the
English language sufficiently to converse with the general public, to
understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language, to
respond to official inquiries, and to make entries on reports and records”. In
some cases, training can be conducted multi-lingually, but passing the test
must be done in English to drive on roads in the US.
One week ago while returning from
Boston on Route 24 I was harassed by an 18 wheel tanker carrying 10K gallons of
fuel oil. The harassment started when the tanker driver failed to yield on
the on ramp to Route 24 in the Brockton area. The driver forced his way on to Route
24 and I was stuck between him and the car next to me so I to jack-up to avoid
getting crushed. He knew I was there as I was right outside his cab
Think of the number of casualties
that would have resulted if an accident had occurred? At that moment Route
24 was full of heavy rush hour traffic. I had enough. I looked for
the phone number on the side of the tanker, and I called the company and asked
for the “Safety Department”.
A company’s safety department handles all the safety
violations inside a business and outside as well. A safety department only
answers to the CEO and the insurance company. It is has the authority to
immediately terminate an employee for hazardous behavior.
Getting back to the Route 24
incident I left a voicemail for the Safety Officer. Thirty minutes went by
and I called back and the receptionist was trying to blow me off. Not
taking no for an answer, and having experienced staff who answer the phones
covering for dysfunctional employees, I asked how I can talk to the Safety Officer
right – NOW. She took my number and with five minutes the Safety Officer
The Safety officer was upset that
this driver was acting this way with a loaded tanker and I mentioned that if
the driver worked for me he would be in the unemployment line. The Safety
Officer assured me the driver would be severely dealt with. You may think
this is harsh but what if the driver endangered your son or your daughter, your
The Monday before this past Thanksgiving
I encountered another oil company driver driving erratically on Route 95 South
in Cranston. This truck was a repair vehicle. The driver was
committing lane violations as he was all over the road forcing me out of my
lane twice. I came around him and saw that he was on his cell phone as the
phone was in front of his face obscuring his line of sight with the highway.
Since the oil company had their name
on the truck I googled the company name and contacted their safety
department. The same conversation as the Route 24 incident occurred with
the Safety Officer being very apologetic about the hazardous driving and thanks
to their companies GPS system the driver will be quickly identified and dealt
In both incidents I provided the
truck number but the companies use their GPS systems for concrete
evidence. Again, you may think this harsh but what if this reckless driver
crashed into your loved one 2 days before Thanksgiving?
We cannot do much to remove the
reckless motorists on the roads these days, even though if we see autos driving
in dangerous ways we should call it in at once, at least we have the ability to
do something about the 6 ton to 80 ton trucks on the road driven by a few
reckless drivers. And that is to turn them into their companies Safety
Department. Note the number on the side of the truck.
According to the Embark Safety
website, “About 5% of drivers develop unsafe driving patterns that potentially
put themselves and others at-risk”. Embark Safety was the company that started
the national program, “1-800-How’s My Driving Program”. The company says this
campaign allows organizations of all sizes to mitigate accident risk by leveraging
comments from concerned motorists to identify risky driving behaviors and
reduce the likelihood of accidents.
So, next time, look for that number, and when you can safely stop and call, do it. Point of note: if a truck driver is severely out of control on the highway then call 911 and let the State Police deal with them.