Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Champions of the Highway

I met some folks this weekend who are experts at the Funky Monkey, the Flying H and the Two-Pole Serpentine. They’re not dances or cooking techniques. Those are the names of some problems built into this year’s obstacle course at the Missouri Truck Driving Championships.

The Missouri Trucking Association calls together dozens and dozens of the state’s best accident-free professional drivers for two days of challenges. The marquee event is a
six-station obstacle course. Everyday driving and delivery skills are tested to the extreme. Supporters roared their support as drivers maneuvered large delivery vans and tractors pulling flatbed, tank and van trailers through obstacles demonstrating tight turns, backing skills, distance estimation and safe operation.

Curious, I started asking drivers about their road history. How long had they been accident-free? Five years, two years, 13 years. One gentleman reported an accident-free career of more than 20 years! He’d driven more than enough miles to backhaul moon rocks.

I asked what caused them worry on the road. Family problems? Schedule deadlines? No.

Other drivers.

Given the chance, they’d beg other highway users to put down the cell phone, stop texting, stop with the mascara, quit reading books (what?) and concentrate on driving.

What else? They want everyone to buckle up and to realize that trucks are big. Big stuff takes time to stop. Big trucks have big blind spots. Big vehicles take time to climb big Missouri hills.

What do professional drivers worry about when they’re on the road?

Your safety.