Dangerous Things Truck Drivers Do — Overconfidence Behind the Wheel

Mountain Driving Tips For Truckers

Mountain areaOf all the dangerous things truck drivers do, being overconfident behind the wheel, can be deadly.

Overconfidence 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?

However, there are imminent dangers for truck drivers who become overconfident in their driving skills.

Statistics indicate many at fault accidents involving semi trucks 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 truck drivers may begin to feel they have the whole driving thing well managed and can tend to become overconfident of their skills and abilities.

Convoy of Big Rigs

When The Driver Has Mastered All – The Overconfident Trucker

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 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 (from a long time ago), to illustrate this point.

Green Truck on Highway

My Near Fatal Mistake — Overconfidence — Dangerous Things Truck Drivers Do

I had been a truck driver for about 6 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 relatively easy without issue.

Between the Rogers Pass and Golden B.C. on the Trans-Canada, lies Donald Hill.

My Wild Ride Down Donald

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 present 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 more vigilant, 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 trucks who were spun out and underneath their trucks chaining up.

This incident was one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned.

I was lucky I didn’t get killed or hurt someone else.

Related > A Trucker’s Quick Guide to Chaining Up a Semi Truck  

NEVER EVER Think You’ve Got It Mastered

Be ever vigilant.  Don’t allow yourself to become overconfident when you drive professionally.

It only takes a split second for things to go very wrong.

Believe me, I know. I’ve been there.

Truck Driver Standing Beside Blue Peterbilt

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