Red Traffic Stop Lights – Lessons from the road

When I was in high school, I use to ride with my Dad when he delivered (mostly) rough cut hardwood lumber from a local central Indiana sawmill to assorted industries in the Ohio River Valley. It was these ride a longs that gave me an appreciation for the work, labor and effort it took to deliver the goods that America needed for businesses to operate.

The anti-truck movement was as active then and they are now, just now they have more liberal media outlets that are all to happy to expound the rectoric that all truck drivers are driving illegally be it drunk, high on drugs or operating while half asleep because they refuse to take required breaks. I will not say there are not trucker that do this, but there are also a lot of ‘4-wheelers’ that do it also.

But daily, there are accidents in almost every county and every city of any size everywhere in the USA. These stories seldom make the news. However, let one truck driver be accused of improper operation of their equipment smash into a family car and it will certainly make the news. I once watched 3 school buses crash into each other – I witnessed it so I know it happened. It never made the local Las Veges news. What was on the news? A story about two trucks in northern Nevada that collided and caused a passenger car to be wrecked, the driver trapped but not seriously injured. The media loves to trash trucks.

This difference, and maybe rightfully so, is that truck drivers are expected to be professionals. They are PAID to operate large, dangerous units on crowed, often poorly maintained highways and byways. Truck drivers should be more qualified then their 4-wheeler road sharing public. Truck drivers should and must understand the true nature of the forces at effect then operating their equipment – be it a delivery van, an 18 wheeler or a multiaxle, specialty equipment hauler.

With that lecture in mind, this story has served me well – first just driving a car/pickup and then also when driving Expedite Freight in the midwest.

I was riding with Dad on the way back from delivering a load somewhere. As most of the loads were 3-5 hours one way out, he normally returned empty, as we were that day. It was raining lightly as we were south bound on I-67 from Indianapolis. As we rounded the east side of Mooresville, the highway bends slightly and starts down a gentle down grade approaching the traffic light for Indiana 144. Although the Traffic Light was green, when we were still more then 2/10 mile away, dad started applying light brakes. I never thought much about it as there was another lumber mill that he occasionally hauled from located in Mooresville and I assumed that he was stopping there to get tomorrow’s load.

When we were about 100-150 feet from the light, it was still green, he moved his foot from the brakes to accelerator pedal and started speeding up. I asked him why he had slowed down since the light was green the entire time.

I will never forget what he calming, flatly said without any emotion.

“When it is raining, all lights are red.”

The meaning clear then and always, if you wait until you have to stop – there is no way you will be able to.

Comments are closed.