A Story by Matt Chase
This story I hope creates dialog. Dialog that is used as a teachable moment for many, in particular the everyday motorist who simply is uninformed, or is being misled, for a variety of reasons. Even more, this could possibly be a potential life-saving moment.
You may think a super trucker is usually a young male driver who is turned loose from his company trainer, and is now barreling down the highway, and being foolish and reckless. While his mind he is daydreaming how his life somehow just hit the lottery, and his attention is not on that vehicle currently in his blind spot to his right, where he should have remained doing the speed limit. Often times it is these young and inexperienced drivers, who can cause the most grief and mayhem on the highway.
Anatomy Of An Accident
An accident that occurs between a big rig and a four wheeler takes a split second to transpire, but to those who are involved, it is like watching a silent movie, set at slow motion speed, an end, over end, horror of a movie. The movie ends and real time returns to a deafening normal pitch, like the ending to a major motion pictures musical overture, when the last ‘clanging of metallic sound ends, trailing off like an echo ; and a high pitched horn (car horn) blares loudly in the distance, while the dust settles ever so gently back to the ground, then all is quiet.
Some of the first passerby’s that come upon any accident may be used as eye witnesses. Testimony is given on the scene, to the first responders and investigators, and can again later be called upon to testify if a court case is filed – “Me and my wife were the first vehicle that came upon what looked at first to be some ragged chunks of metal in the middle of the roadway. We first noticed strewn debris was everywhere. That’s when we both gasped at the body in the road, had to slowly dodge around it, clearly the person had been ejected from the car, which we now saw was about 100 ft. from the person who lay in the road. My wife here is an RN, and at her urgent request I pulled to the left of the road, on the shoulder, and my wife immediately got out and quickly went over to check the body……. the woman’s vitals. Just as quick, she was back inside the car, and just shook her head.”
Another witness, a fellow trucker said, “When I came upon the accident the debris field was everywhere, and I had to travel on the right shoulder in order to avoid running over the debris on the road, and the” – the driver then cleared his throat- “the mangled up body in the center of the roadway” –another exhale then he went on– “I decided it would be safer to move along and not congest the area, cars and other trucks were rapidly coming up on the scene. I also noticed a big rig on the right shoulder with his right blinker on, so I moved out of the debris field and started to move quickly into the left lane, assuming this trucker was signaling to move onto the highway. As I passed the truck, I leaned forward and looked over at the driver as I passed just to give a wave. I could see the driver staring in my direction, but more like right through me, like he had a distant look to himself, this ashy horrorstruck look. That’s when it dawned on me, somehow this driver was involved in that terrible accident.
Litigators, Instigators & Alligators
Mayhem on the highway is how another early passerby described the scene, about 18 months later, for the attorney representing the plaintiffs in a civil court case. They were suing the truck driver and the company he drove for. An earlier criminal court case had found the driver not guilty on the charge of vehicular manslaughter. In that case the investigators that were hired by the defense, did an excellent job investigating thoroughly on the cause of the accident. They determined that when the small vehicle that was involved in the accident, was passing along side of the truck, who was doing the speed limit in the right-hand lane of this two lane highway, suddenly had a drive tire blowout. This sent a large portion of the recapped rubber flying into the direction of the small car. The noise factor and the flying projectile, apparently startled the driver, this caused him to swerve to the left side of the shoulder, then overcorrected back onto the roadway, and this caused the multiple rollover, doing approximately, 70 mph. Also the trucker at the same time was moving off to the right side and the shoulder, completely having no contact with the car and its catastrophic outcome.
The prosecutor in that criminal court case used the term ‘super trucker’ about 75 times throughout. The defense uttered those same words only to object on grounds of misleading the jury. And the judge used them at times to overrule the objection, or in a few instances to sustain.
The closing arguments by the prosecutor made the driver out to be some type of uncaring, unprofessional, unkempt speed demon, who was responsible for the deaths of these two young married people on their way home from a honeymoon spent in Las Vegas.
It was clearly seen in the eyes of the jury, this was a safe driver who was a 20-year veteran of the road, and just a terrible accident.
This story was only an exercise or scenario of how and why things have changed in the industry over the years. This made up super trucker disaster story, and any after effects, could have played out just as I have related. Reviewing older court cases, much of what I describe could very well be similar.
It is a violent nature when big meets small. These major catastrophes on the American highways have always hung in the air, like black coal smoke from a truckers exhaust rising from stacks.
And as time rolls on down the highway, and these super trucker-type scenarios are played out over and over, in each state and jurisdiction, cases are filed, charges of felonies brought up, or civil cases filed. And today it is still the order of the day, and nothing has changed, all parties on both sides of the issue feel strongly about this.
The American trucker for the most part has always been conscientious and professional, and wants to safely stay out of harms way, to his or her credit. This very rarely shows up as the normal life and attitude of a trucker.
Today is no different! We still seem to have this target painted on our trucks….