13. Not cool enough
Just about four years ago my boyfriend died.
He was coming out of the mountains in a WV, and he smoked his breaks, so he had to pull over to let them cool off in between hills. He apparently didn’t let them cool off enough.
He lost control about a half mile from the bottom. I haven’t seen the area myself, but I’m told quite a few truckers have died there and a ramp could easily have saved his life.
To all the truckers, please be careful out there. I know we all think it won’t happen to us, but it does happen to some and I know none of you want to leave loved ones behind for a silly mistake.
14. Tunnel vision
My dad was a lorry driver around Europe when I was around 13 and he would take me with him. I got to see some incredible things and went to loads of countries I haven’t seen since.
This particular time we were coming out of a tunnel, I’d like to say it was the Mont Blanc but I can’t be sure, looking at pictures it doesn’t remind me of the roads you get on the way out. The road was high altitude, and windy on the way down. The roads are elevated and there are a lot of S turns.
We heard a message over CB radio that someone needed help, their brakes weren’t working. The lane you used when you had no brakes was situated at the bottom of the mountain exit road. So there’s no way he was making it. He’d asked if anyone could help. My dad volunteered but was too far behind. We listened as another two drivers agreed they would make a block in the road so he could smash into the back of them to slow himself until they reached the toll at the bottom of the road.
He complained that it was a new motor and his boss would kill him. In the end he weighed up his options fairly quickly and agreed he’d smash into the other lorry from behind and the driver in front would slow his brakes for the remainder of the journey. It worked and we passed them further down the road.
Had there been no other English speaking drivers around, I’m pretty sure he would have endured a horrible death by plummeting from the road into the abyss below.
That was the first time I learned about the roads they built to be used by drivers who’ve brakes have failed. Further down the road my dad pointed it out. There was no way he was making it. Incidentally, it’s the first time I learned that brakes wouldn’t work because of the heat from friction and the ridiculous heavy load they are carrying.
15. Runaway lane
I have never used the runaway lane but I did witness it being used once. It was the first real heavy load I ever hauled, 56,000 pounds of steel plates and bars. I was going down a section of the Coquillhalla below the Penask Summit. I was in an old GMC Brigadier with no engine brake but really good brakes, I started from the brake check nice and slow and kept the truck in 3rd gear in low range, about 30kmph, foot on the brake at 10lbs of application pressure, this isn’t enough to overheat the brakes as they are dissipating enough heat to keep working properly. I was about 3-4 Kms down when a fully loaded lumber truck went flying past me, I first thought maybe I was really being too careful but soon I realized I was doing the right thing, the truck went up the runaway lane and went right to the top, then it came back down. There was lumber everywhere, the truck jackknifed and stopped before getting back to the highway. It took a couple of weeks for the lumber to all get picked up.
16. Gravel teachings
On US12 bringing my family back from vacation in Idaho, we saw a semi ditch into a runaway ramp. I learned then that that gravel is about 4 feet deep, because that truck sank up to its axles and gravel flew everywhere. I just kept driving. There wasn’t anything I could’ve done, but it was horrifying.
17. Laying on the horn
Passenger on my dad’s truck. He was driving at night, near the France -Italy border and dunno but this time something went wrong. Also, because it was at night we barely noticed the smoke, another truck from our country was laying on the horn to draw our attention. I nearly crapped myself when I saw the smoke but in the end the brakes cooled off and everything was fine.