I’ve always been deathly afraid of 18 wheelers. They are huge! They can take you out in an instant and something that large has to have way too many blind spots for my comfort. Also, knowing that I drive a car larger than a mini cooper and that can’t go under the truck like they did in “The Italian Job” makes me extremely nervous. Just in case, you know.
Take a look at the 21 AskReddit truckers, who share some of their closest calls.
1. Folks in a hurry
My dad’s a truck driver, hauls various gasses (Oxygen, acetylene, argon, etc.). Once, driving west towards Dodge City, KS loaded, it was blizzard conditions, snow on the road, cars in the ditch. A truck comes around and gets in front of our rig, doing way faster than is safe in those conditions. It vanishes from view in the blizzard. A few minutes later, we see the truck come into view, flipped on the road. We had to jump into the oncoming traffic lane to stop, there was no way we were stopping on ice before we smashed into the flipped vehicle. Narrowly missed oncoming traffic, it was absolutely horrifying.
My dad stopped the truck, jumped out and ran to the truck. There were three passengers. All three passengers were dead.
We’ll never forget it.
Why? People in a hurry just couldn’t stand being behind a truck, decided to jump ahead in a blizzard and died for it. Absolutely stupid. There’s no reason they should be dead right now.
For the love of everything good, please drive safely. You’re not going to get to your destination much quicker anyways, and 9 times out of 10 that truck driver is driving as safely as possible. That’s what they’re trained to do. Stopping at railroad tracks, taking extra time on turns, making slow movements on the highway, be patient, they’re trying to look out for you while driving a huge rig.
2. Driving down under
I’m a truck driver in Australia.
I was heading down an area called the Moonbi Hills, it’s a combination of 6-8% grade hills and it’s fairly narrow in places.
I was crawling down in 7th gear (3rd overdrive) on the engine brake when I heard a bang and the motor began chewing oil from the turbo into the engine, creating a runaway event. Before I could even think, it had accelerated and revved right out past the hard RPM cutoff and starting screaming down the hill. I swung it straight into a brake failure bay and let the sand and uphill slow and stop the truck which stalled it.
I ended up getting a tow truck to pull the truck out of the bay via the rear ring feeder and getting towed back to Newcastle.
It was scary how quick it happened. I was in a 26m b-double loaded to 68t (137000 pounds) of flammable oil.
3. Dodging death
I was driving through NC, and as we crested a hill, I could smell burning brakes. A half mile or so ahead of us, there was a beat-up looking truck headed into the runaway lane. He went up, bled off all his speed, and then rolled backwards, jackknifed, and rolled. We stopped and I ran up to the truck. The guy was fine, as he crawled out, he was laughing the slightly hysterical laugh of a guy that just dodged death.
The year was 1988. I was just 20 years old and living in High Level, Alberta, Canada.
I took a job that was promising by wage standards. It entailed driving a split axle dynamite truck. The words dynamite truck don’t even give credence to exactly how dangerous they are.
It wasn’t just one big cubicle of dynamite, they were instead separated compartments inside and lined so that the detonators get loaded up in a separate section from the actual dynamite.
We were to leave High Level for Fox Creek where we were going to load up and then return but I was told we were leaving High Level at an odd time.
When I got on the trip the co driver was the owner of the business and he told me we were leaving at an odd time to miss the weigh scales.
My first trucking job and I was already lined up by ownership to break laws.
So we got to Fox Creek and not only did we load up, we overloaded. Yes, he wanted that truck filled to the top which included throwing things into the separated compartments to pack them up even more.
Fast forward a few hours, this was a one way all the way trip… No sleep no break.
It’s dark, it’s snowing and we’re heading north…
Just as we were about to head into the Peace River Valley, at that designated point where all trucks should start gearing down (especially overloaded dynamite trucks on a snowy night) I attempted to gear down and that’s when the ‘split axle’ jammed. Now freewheeling down the valley on a snowy night, I had just the brakes to use to get that truck to slow down enough we could stop it entirely and get it back into gear. That took a bit, seemed like an hour in memory now. I can tell you for certain, I grew up looking at those runaway tracks always imaging some truckers need to use it and what that situation would have been like. If I had the runaway track I would most certainly have used it there. Instead, the co partner threw away his underwear when I finally did get that truck stopped.
5. What’s that smell?
Here’s a tip, when going down the mountain be sure to pay attention to a burning smell in the air. That means a truck ahead/ near you is braking like a jerk and could be dangerous. I’ve never actually seen a dudes brakes go out but where I’m from, I can’t tell you how many trucks I’ve seen with smoke pouring from their tires as they fly down those mountains.
6. Brake check
I’ve just got my truck and trailer license as my job involves transporting machinery between quarries. First real big trip away from the city and I hit a 6% gradient a couple gears too high and was having to use a fair amount of brakes to keep it in check… It was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced, not having any real idea how long before they start to fade on a steep hill.
7. Thinking of others
My dad lost a buddy of his who was unable to take the runaway lane when his brakes went out. Some family with kids were picnicking on it, and so he chose to drive off the road in a different direction.