04 September 2011

Day 246 (Almost Done With This Leg)

Last night, Chuck and I shut down in Colby, KS, just 53 miles from the Kansas/Colorado state line, which left us with about 470 miles left to cover today. I actually dread this part of the trip, because we will be heading back into the more humid weather. The Weather Channel says that Tulsa is supposed to be in the 80's for the next few days.

Driving through the northern plains and venturing into the mountainous territory that the Northwest is known for always offers a sense of peace - that and the reduced amount of traffic - which always makes for a relaxing drive. When I first started driving a truck I recall being rather skittish, almost terrified, of driving through the mountains (which is understandable if you've limited experience doing so), but over the years I have gained a longing to drive those areas. There are areas in the East and Northeast which some consider as "mountainous", but the real mountain regions are only in the West and Northwest.

One thing I teach my students is to have respect for the mountains: drive in a way that provides the safest passage for the weight you're hauling, in accordance with the grade percentage. For example, if you have a gross vehicle weight of 79,200 and going down a grade that's rated at 6% for the next 10 miles, the last thing you want to do is 65 MPH (or more). At that point, if your brakes start smoking, all you have left to look out for is a "truck runaway ramp"... if you haven't already passed it, not to mention the lives around you that your ignorance has put at risk. In all the years I've driven, I have never had a runaway truck, nor a wreck, nor have I rolled a truck over. As I have told Chuck (as well as Clint, Joseph, and Allen before him), go down the grade in the speed you feel safe & comfortable doing. If that happens to be 25 MPH, then so be it. Two important keys as a truck driver is to always arrive at your destinations safe and on time; if you can't fulfill both, then always choose safety over on-time.

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