An overconfident trucker is often the result of several years of successful on the road experience behind the wheel…… drivers may tend to relax a little and sometimes feel they’ve got the whole thing locked down and under control.
After all, things have gone well so far. What could possibly go wrong.
There are imminent dangers for truck drivers who become overconfident in their driving skills.
Statistics indicate many at fault accidents involving big rigs occur when the driver has 7-12 years experience. If speculating the reason for this, it may be at this point in the career of a professional driver, some may begin to feel they have the whole driving thing well managed and tend to become overconfident of their skills and abilities.
When The Driver Has Mastered All
A trucker can become overconfident….
- in their ability to successfully drive themselves out of any bad situation
- when they know the road they are traveling on well enough, to predict what to expect.
- Herein lies their biggest mistake and thus the principle reasons for many truck accidents. A professional truck driver must never drop their guard, not even for a moment. Being overconfident when driving a big rig can be deadly. It’s impossible to predict what circumstances lie on the road ahead.Here’s a story about a personal experience of mine to illustrate this point.
My Near Fatal Mistake
I had been driving big rigs for about 8 years or so. I had just delivered a load into Revelstoke, B.C. I was a fuel hauler back then and was returning empty to Calgary Alberta with an empty set of A trains.
It was a clear, bright sunny spring day. The roads were wet from the snow melting and running down the mountains onto the road.
I had traveled this route many times over the past number of years. On this particular day, I had found Rogers Pass to be no problem. After getting through that area, I thought the rest of the drive into Calgary would be a walk in the park.
Between the Rogers Pass and Golden B.C. on the Trans-Canada, lies Donald Hill. It’s a long downgrade when headed east. It has a curve at the top of the hill, before starting down and yet another curve at the bottom of the hill, as the Trans-Canada curves to cross a bridge over the Columbia River.
Due to the curve at the top of the hill, I had not been able to see the downgrade and the chaos there.
I rounded the curve and was on the grade down before I could see that the hill was covered in glare ice and trucks spun out, trying to ascend the grade.
I flipped on my Jake Brake. In the days before electronic engines, a Jake could stall an engine. The road was so slick, the Jake locked the drives and stalled the motor. The tractor slowed down a little, but the pup trailer started to pull out to pass.
I was now crooked and out of position, going down the grade with the engine stalled. By the time I managed to restart it, select a lower setting for the Jake and let out the clutch, I was way out of shape.
Through more luck than skill, I managed to get the whole thing lined up straight and slowed down enough to make it around the curve and across the bridge at the bottom of the hill.
The snow had melted and run off the mountain across the road and had refrozen the shadow of the hill, even though the temperature was well above freezing.
Had I been less confident of the rest of the drive being a walk in the park, my slide might not have happened.
Honestly? It scared the hell out of me. I’ll never forget that ride sideways down the hill.
It was a miracle I didn’t slide into one of the westbound truckers who were spun out and underneath their trucks chaining up.
Never Ever Think You’ve Got It Mastered
Be ever vigilant. Don’t allow yourself to become overconfident when running the road as a professional driver. It only takes a split second for things to go very wrong. Believe me, I know. I’ve been there.
More Driver Skills Articles
- Backing Up a Tractor Trailer
- How to Scale a Big Rig
- How to Perform a Pre-Trip Inspection
- How to Double Clutch
- Sliding the Fifth Wheel