By on April 23, 2015

Long distance driving is something that I enjoy doing, but most of the time, my driving is restricted to within 50 miles of where I live, just outside of Detroit. In the past few months, though, I’ve been a bit of a highway child.

I spent my birthday in December driving to Peoria to interview the farmer who owns Larry Shinoda’s personal Boss 302 prototype for a book that I’m doing for Car Tech Books on muscle car prototypes. In January and February I made a couple of trips down near Columbus to hang out and talk guitars with Jack Baruth. Speaking of guitars – also in Ohio – was a mint condition Pee Wee Les Paul that I wanted for my grandson’s future use.

Toyota loaned me a Highlander with all-wheel drive for the Chicago Auto. Lexus tossed me an IS 350 F Sport that I took to New York. The driving conditions ranged from the Super Bowl Sunday blizzard to sunny and dry coming back from NYC. The one constant condition: America’s over the road truck drivers seem to think that their time and fuel is more valuable than of people driving cars and light trucks.

I’m sure you’ve experienced it. You’re driving along on the Interstate; cruise control set at the speed limit or X many MPH over without calling undue attention in that jurisdiction. Up ahead in the right lane. You see a caravan of two or more semis going the speed limit for big trucks. You smoothly more over to the left. As you get ready to pass the trucks, one of them pulls out into your lane to pass, only instead the trucks do a 61 MPH vs 60 MPH drag race for however long it takes. Meanwhile, you have to slow from your cruising speed and cool your heels until it’s safe to pass the leapfrogging truck.

I first saw this described by my colleague Mr. Baruth. It just so happened I was on the phone with him (hands free) while getting delayed by one of these semi drag races on my way to Indiana.

Now that truck driver can see you in his or her mirrors and he has to know that you’re going to have to slow from your cruising speed if he tries to execute the pass. Apparently, him keeping to his schedule and using the minimal amount of fuel is more important than your schedule, your ability to maintain a constant speed and good fuel mileage. I believe truckers are violating one of the social conventions of driving. A certain amount of give and take is required so the this highway dance proceeds smoothly and safely. You let me merge and I let you merge.

If you have any real experience driving on the highway, you know how your own driving affects others. At one time or another, we’ve all been pinned in by a driver who doesn’t care about anything but their own speed. By the same token, some of us have yielded to the temptation of speeding up just enough to do the same to a driver we’ve decided is acting selfishly – after all, social conventions do need occasional enforcement. If you’re doing a socially acceptable cruising speed in the left lane, you shouldn’t have to slow down because someone in the right lane waits until the last possible second before pulling in front of you to make a pass. I believe in getting along to go along, but also in not being intimidated.

On one of my recent highway trips, a caravan of truckers was doing its leapfrog drag race. Car drivers were unable to even reach the speed limit. One particular truck driver doing did the big rid leapfrog more than once as he moved up in through the caravan. I’ll admit I yielded to the temptation mentioned above. When the opportunity presented itself, I made it very clear, but in a safe manner, that I could force him into driving how I wanted him to drive. It took me a couple of times before he got the message, but he did eventually get the message and backed off. Understand – I didn’t do anything like cut him off or in any way endanger either one of us or other drivers. I just used position and speed differential to make him stay where I wanted him to stay, not how he wanted to drive. I did the same thing he and his colleagues do to dominate smaller vehicles all the time.

I understand the importance of the trucking industry to American commerce. Truck drivers indeed move the goods upon which we rely in our modern lives. They aren’t, however, more important than anyone else on the road. Sharing the road goes both ways.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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137 Comments on “America’s Truckers, Why Is Your Time and Fuel More Valuable Than Mine?...”


  • avatar
    gmichaelj

    1. I’d suggest you be careful: they may decide you need a little bump to remind you who’s the boss.

    2. I think they hate quick little cars that get ahead of them, then get distracted and slow down, then speed up ahead of them again. Or maybe this is their occasional entertainment. No social contract: us vs. them

    Edit 3. They are at work, you are just a ‘civilian’

    • 0 avatar
      Audiofyl

      Who is to decide that someone driving a car/light truck on the highway is or isn’t working while they are on the road?

    • 0 avatar
      smokingclutch

      1.) Go ahead, mother trucker… your insurance company will be buying me a new car, and you’ll be working the checkout line at WalMart because you’ll lose your CDL, possibly go to jail for assault with a deadly weapon, and my lawyer will make sure I get half of every dollar you’ve ever earned and ever will earn.

      2.) They’re “professionals,” they should be better than this.

      3.) I traveled for work for seven years – for about three of those, I drove rather than flying. When I was driving 1,000 miles a week, I was at work, too.

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        this isnt the right attitude

        an argument between a 2 ton car and a 40 ton truck will always have one loser and it aint the truck

        thing is all the litigation or new replacement cars or people losing their livelihood doesnt make up for hospital time and injuries or worse

        i honestly have no love for trucks but my well being is worth more than ‘winning an argument’ or a lawsuit

        • 0 avatar
          smokingclutch

          So the right attitude is “stay out of the way of truckers who drive like a**holes because they might murder me?”

          Maybe everyone should drive with a little respect for each other.

          • 0 avatar
            TonyJZX

            yep, the right attitude is to not take unnecessary risks

            me staying out of hospital is the most important thing in the world

            my kids and relatives knowing i’m getting to where i’m going is the most important thing in the world

            being ‘right’ in a wheelchair is not

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            No, the right attitude is not to kill yourself to make a point that is so trivial and inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

            I thoroughly enjoy highway games and the psychology of lane/speed dynamics but at the end of the day I still respect the laws of physics. Truckers can do better but the highway is not the place to fight them.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            “Maybe everyone should drive with a little respect for each other.”

            Or, better yet, just ride a bike instead, and be less affected by the inevitably moronic behavior of the denizens of our moronic age.

        • 0 avatar
          DeeDub

          I’ve always remembered what my motorcycle safety instructor told us students: your goal isn’t to have a tombstone that reads “I had the right of way.”

      • 0 avatar
        Chan

        Your lawyer can’t do much if you’re dead.

        I get the occasional irritating 18-wheeler, but in far more cases I see careless drivers cutting off the tractor-trailers and diving on the brakes right in front of them. To do so at all is dangerous; to do so on purpose is a death wish. The road is the wrong place to play games with a trucker.

        You don’t want to be right if it’s on a wheelchair or 6 feet under.

        • 0 avatar
          HD1974

          Cutting off a rig and slamming on the brakes so he tailgates out of control is exactly what should be done. These inconsiderate bastards will not respond to anything less than that. I grew up in a place where trucks were always to my right. Now I live in a place and time where trucks are always to the left, blocking traffic, doing whatever they want. I have a picture of a 4 lane highway with 3 dumptrucks on 3 different lanes. They gotta learn somehow that they don’t own the road.

    • 0 avatar
      mr.cranky

      @gmichaelj-

      That’s when I call the best personal injury lawyer in the area and teach that trucker a thing or two about common courtesy.

      I’ve dealt with asshole truckers in the past, especially those that blaze by full speed in a blinding snowstorm. You haven’t seen fear until that truck passes and snow keeps flying and flying and you can’t see a goddamn thing.

    • 0 avatar
      cncjeff

      What is missing here is a bit of history. It used to be, that goods traveled by rail. The railroads were responsible for maintaining their own right-of-way.Then something new entered the mix. Prohibition ended. There were fleets of trucks that had been used to transport liquor that now needed a purpose. Plus, it didn’t hurt that these trucks were owned by people who were known to skirt the law. These trucks had an additional advantage. Someone else provided and maintained their right-of-way. Railroads could no longer compete. If you look at the entire picture, it is no surprise that truck drivers behave as if they owned the road.

  • avatar
    Yuppie

    Truckers do this because of others’ self-preservation instinct. Also because most truckers are driving fleet vehicles, not their own rigs.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      And they’re paid by the mile, not the hour – and slowing down so Joe Zippy in his car can pass ends up costing them more fuel when they speed back up.

      It honestly doesn’t bother *me* when I see it happen, because I understand how annoying it is to be following someone who’s going Just A Tiny Bit Slower Than I Want To.

      Complaining that “they think their time and fuel is more valuable than mine” reads a lot like a complaint that “they don’t think my time and fuel are more important than theirs”.

      (And the fuel part, well, making you slow down ain’t costing you nearly as much fuel as it’d be costing them, not remotely.

      So literally, their fuel per speed delta from having to accelerate back up *is* more expensive than yours.)

      • 0 avatar
        smartascii

        @Sigivald – No one is saying trucks can’t pass each other. We’re not asking them to drop 10 MPH to let us keep our speed. After all, if one truck is moving 10 MPH faster than the other one, they’ll pass, move back to the right, and everyone’s sharing the road. What Ronnie’s getting at here is that their refusal to drop ONE mile per hour seems to be worth slowing a long line of cars down by 10 MPH or more. So what uses more fuel? A truck speeding back up by a mile per hour? Or 5-10 cars speeding up by 10 MPH?

  • avatar
    pragmatic

    While I see the occasional truck drag race it rarely bothers me. What does bother me are the car driver speeding along in the left lane only to slow each time they reach a truck. They will track the rear trailer bogie for a while and then slowly pass, only to resume the higher speed once clear of the truck. They travel faster than my usual 8 over so if I pass them when the road is clear they will repass only to force me down to 65 for long stretches when they reach the next big rig.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    I notice this behavior, too…have wondered if it has to do with running up against a governor. Whatever…if you cannot or will not speed up enough to pass in a reasonable amount of time, stay out of the fast lane.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      And what truly frosts my cookies is when they try to pass UP HILL at 7000 ft in altitude! Half the freaking time they can’t even get ahead in that situation and end up having to wait for the next downhill section.

      • 0 avatar
        sproc

        I-80 through Wyoming is awful for this. Lots of two lane with no extra climbing lane. 60 vs. 61 doesn’t bother me nearly as much as 40 vs. 41.

        • 0 avatar
          Carilloskis

          I make the Drive Form Utah to Colorado along I80 through Wyoming several times a year since 2008 and the Semis drag racing are the worst because of the Hills and the speed differential is so great with a speed limit of 80 MPH and a semi jumps out in front of you and he’s going 41 while your going 80-85 can be dicey. I don’t Mind the Semis that can actually pass in a decent amount of time and get over right away, but some of the drivers are bad about this.

      • 0 avatar
        cpthaddock

        @ Dan – are you thinking of I17 north into Flagstaff? I’ve had several very close calls with truck drivers pulling out at ~50MPH with zero warning or indication and plenty of visibility, while I’ve been maintaining highway speeds ~75MPH ish. In those situations it’s more of a cookie toasting than a frosting.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          AZ is the worst because AZ State Highway Patrol rivals only Ohio for [email protected] moves like trying to find the sneakiest place to be hiding so you get nervous speeding to get around the truckers faster.

          NM Highway patrol will give a 10 mph cushion (at least on I40) on the interstate and not even blink.

          But I’ve seen it consistently from the TX/NM boarder to the AZ/CA boarder.

          • 0 avatar
            cpthaddock

            @ Dan – I drive PHX to FLG frequently and have never had trouble with law enforcement and ~85mph. Camp Verde and the stretch north of Cordes Junction are the big exceptions.

            I still lament the passing of the fixed cameras on Phoenix freeways. Give me a fixed camera with a nice warning sign in advance of it rather than an unmarked cop car. That point is pretty moot now as my commute is only 3 miles a day not 90.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        *That* is just unprofessional.

        Maybe a regional thing? I almost never see that out here in the Northwest – but then we also have extra lanes on our freeway grades for slow trucks.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. If you can’t stand the speed, stay out of the fast lane.

      I get p!ssed off by drivers (not just of big trucks) who feel that they have the right to intimidate me by riding too close when I am in the slow lane (usually also exceeding the posted limit by 1-9 mph). I’ve been guilty of getting a little close to a slow person in the far fast lane, but if you’re speeding in the slow lane, you should have immunity from that sort of boorish behavior.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Is not “fast lane” – is “passing lane”.

        Is not “slow lane” – is “travel lane”.

        This means there will be lots of passing in mixed traffic, and *there will be slower vehicles on the left* sometimes – they have every right to be there *if* they are passing someone in the right-hand lane.

        (You are absolutely right about tailgating, though.

        As I say when driving my pickup – usually relatively slowly – “if you don’t like how fast I’m going in the right-hand lane there’s a perfectly good lane to the left to pass me in. GET OFF MY ASS. You can’t intimidate me in my SuperDuty.”)

    • 0 avatar
      TCragg

      Heavy trucks in Ontario, Quebec, and likely some other Canadian jurisdictions are speed-limited to 105 km/h. Makes for some frustrating driving on 2-lane sections of controlled-access highways when one guy is doing 104 and the other 105. 3-lane sections are not an issue, since trucks over 6.5 m in length are prohibited from the left lane in Ontario.

      • 0 avatar
        formula m

        The worst is the hwy 417 across Ontario, Canada where it’s two lanes with long stretches of hills and curves around water. When you final get a few miles of passing lane in your direction two semi-trucks decide to switch places and race during the only safe passing lanes for the next 20-30 miles in bad weather or winter which is like half the year up there. It’s even crazier because people then have to pass into oncoming lanes around two semi’s. Not safe at all but it’s what happens. (From experience)

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      It may not be a governor, but instead an auto-logging device on the truck. I believe that companies use such logs to flag drivers that operate outside of guidelines. The passing trucker can’t pass expeditiously without fear of crossing some company red line but still can’t stand to sit behind someone going slower.

  • avatar
    VolandoBajo

    Most of the times I have seen this done, it is at a slower pace than cars can execute, but not repetitive for extended periods of time.

    And more often, when I have backed off, or signalled a truck that I would yield for a lane change, the truck would go out of its way to reciprocate, if at all possible.

    But it seems like the problem might be at its most severe if there is a very high concentration of trucks, and most of them have their speeds governed at exactly 60 or 61 mph for example. Where trucks can get up a bit more speed to pass, it usually doesn’t take long for trucks to settle in ahead of slower trucks.

    And I am willing to cut a bit of slack, as these guys don’t make any money if they aren’t logging miles, whereas it seldom makes that much difference in either my bottom line or total travel time.

    And I live in the Northeast corridor, so I would imagine we get about as heavy a bunch of truck traffic as anywhere, with the possible exception of the Chicago area and/or California.

    To me, the butthead truck driver is the exception, not the rule.

    Slow car drivers in the left lane, who ignore two or three sets of left turn flashes, two or three sets of high beam flashes, and still hog the left lane of a six lane divided highway, are not only annoying, they are more dangerous than a fast well-driven car, and should be ticketed and collect points at a much greater frequency than they seem to.

    • 0 avatar
      HD1974

      I live in Miami Florida. I have ocular proof that truck drivers block the lanes on purpose and travel at whatever speed they feel like or can given their loads. *I’m pulling 20 tonnes* – let me get on the left lane. *I can’t accelerate as fast in slow moving traffic* – let me get on the left lane. *The left lane is taken* – let me get on the next to the left lane. And so on.

      To me the bottom line is *They don’t care about me, I don’t care about them*. A few times I’ve pulled in front of a rig that has kept me back and I’ve slowed down to a crawl. You do it to me, I do it to you.

      One thing is for sure: don’t expect the heat to help you. If you are doing 65 in a 55 zone you might be in for it but if you’re blocking traffic on your slow moving vehicle… Go right ahead.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    I think it’s time you start dinging vehicles without active cruise control options as cheap city cars unworthy of the interstate. It really takes a lot of the sting out these incidents.

  • avatar
    Aquineas

    Certain roads I’ve driven I actually loathe because of the propensity of this behavior: I-81 through Virginia comes immediately to mind. I-35 between Dallas and Austin is awful too.

    • 0 avatar
      ferdburful

      I-81 all the way from Pennsylvania through North Carolina. The number of trucks is amazing and I’ve seen this drag race stuff before. The best way to fix this would be to have 3 lanes in each direction with large trucks prohibited in the far left lane. This works in WV on I-81 and the Ohio Turnpike.

  • avatar

    It is amazing how they can only do 67mph on flat ground as they pass then speed up to 77 or so once they get back into the right lane. (they can pass faster, but choose not to). Some must do this on purpose (backing up car traffic in the fast lane) it is just too blatant to be a mechanical limitation.

    When I see then do this I just drive 67 in front of them as the fast lane empties out. Then speed up and leave him behind. Passive aggressive driving- I win.

  • avatar
    Silent Ricochet

    This is almost a regular thing on the 4-lane highways of New York. I-84 and Route 17 (I-87) come to mind. The speed limit is 65, most others, including myself are doing 75. Upon approaching two or more 18-wheelers lined up in the right lane, one usually rolls their eyes as they know what’s about to happen. And so begins the 7 mile road block. Infuriating and a complete waste of time. Some trucks will simply just sit in the left lane, even when the right lane is empty. How much sooner are you going to make it to your destination travelling 0.5 MPH faster?

    I understand sometimes doing this when there’s hills and steep grades involved. Some trucks have less power, more weight, etc. and they simply won’t be able to make it up the hill if they sit in the right lane behind a slower truck. New Jersey actually creates a separate lane for this exact reason and it’s terrific. But I’ve got to wonder sometimes if they simply do not care about other drivers and use their vehicle’s size to intimidate others into letting them dictate the flow of traffic.

  • avatar
    jhefner

    Ronnie;

    As you know, I work for a logistics company. I support the operations in the Automotive division.

    The drivers who are making store deliveries are working a tight schedule. More often than not, they are delivering to more than one store, and in order to finish the route on time, they have to arrive at each store at a particular time. They are usually timed to arrive before the store opens, or after the lunch rush, or some other window. So, they have to maintain a schedule.

    But at the same time, many trucks now have electronic logging software on board. It not only records how long and how far they have been driving, but also records their speed, mileage and the number of hard braking incidents that occur.

    Third party logistics companies are paid a predetermined rate for each route. Your driver pay and equipment costs are pretty much fixed as well; so whether you make money on a route is dependent on how much fuel is used, and how much they pay for fuel when they refuel. So you better believe their bosses are monitoring all of this, and complaining if their mileage and hard braking incidents are up as a result of driving too fast.

    So they have a narrow window in which to operate – drive too slow, and you are late making your stops. Drive too fast, and your mileage goes down and your hard braking incidents go up. It should be no surprise then that smooth driving at the speed which gives the best fuel economy is the rule of the day. The drivers have to care because there is a long chain of command going up to the CEO whose business is to care because they want to operate at a profit.

    And drivers are out there because they have to work, pleasure only plays a small role in most cases if at all. I will never forget hearing about one new driver who had the option of losing his job to stay home with his dying wife or keep driving because he did not have enough time to take off. You don’t know how many of them have marriage, family and/or money problems back home, or have fought or will fight other problems around the route. My guess is that many of them have more important things on their mind than seeing how big of a pain they can be.

    So cut them a little slack, just like they do each other. My job has certainly made me more conscious of what they deal with on daily basis; I will let them over when I see them signaling, and try not to force them to apply their brakes hard. And, as others mentioned; they are often driving someone else’s property as well. Thanks for reading, and drive safe.

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      @jhefner, good post. I drove a medium duty straight job for 25 years in the meat industry in the northeast. Judging by the comments, I would guess that 95% of the B&B on this thread never have driven a medium or heavy duty truck for any extended length of time.

      Trucks on long stretches of Americas byways are NOT “drag racing” when they overtake slower trucks…..It is a function of power, gearing, load, grade and fuel conversation. On long 10 mile upgrades you find in the west, in order to maintain speed and conserve fuel, the driver does not want to downshift in order to pass a truck that may only be 1-2 MPH slower than he is……so it’s gonna take some time to pass…..It is not a “drag race”.

    • 0 avatar
      Boff

      Some great points here to balance the discussion. But none of it is an excuse for the last second, essentially unsignaled swerve maneuver. I can see that if it takes a few miles to pass another truck you can’t foresee who might be come up behind, but nothing justifies causing another driver to have a “moment”. My policy is if the truck signals before I come within a few truck lengths, I’ll slow down and let him in.

      • 0 avatar
        Boff

        One more thing…if I flash my headlights at the truck in that situation, am I saying “come on over, buddy” or “stay the eff outta my effing lane”.

        • 0 avatar
          paxman356

          When a semi passes you, a quick flash or two is a signal to let them know they have cleared. I have also poked my head over to the left and flashed to let them know I want to pass. I don’t know if that is the proper etiquette, however.

    • 0 avatar
      thats one fast cat

      A good post but still means then that they need to stay out of the left lane. If they cannot speed up to expeditiously get around slower traffic then they shouldn’t pull out. Left lane traffic should yield to faster traffic – what we need is a blue flag for slow traffic

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      jhefner, let me add to the good post accolades. My wife and one daughter are in logistics, my father drove, several of my cousins and numerous friends drive also. I hear all of the stories and have seen many of the same incidents.

      One thing I detect is a huge attitude of entitlement, as if anyone who is in *my* is purposefully trying to deter me from my goal, no matter if what the goal is. We all have to share these roads, we probably aren’t going to get many more for a while.

      Think beyond the end of your bumpers…

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for that jhefner, enlightening and adding to the discussion as usual.

    • 0 avatar
      jimbob457

      Like the old country song says about truck driving: “It’s a livin’, but it ain’t no life.”

      Seriously, big rig traffic generally follows time of day patterns, and you may be able to avoid the worst of their traffic by adjusting your own schedule by an hour or two.

      Their idea is to arrive in a major metro area after the evening rush hour, unload, then reload and leave before the morning rush. Or, maybe sleep all day and leave in the evening. How this plays out later on the wide open spaces of the intercity Interstate varies from place to place, but not day in and day out. If a truck stop is busy at 3 pm on Wednesday, it will be busy at 3 pm on Thursday.

      Also, the big rigs stick pretty much to the Interstate. You might want to consider using secondary roads in some cases. Driving can be fun, you know.

    • 0 avatar
      S197GT

      problems?

      we all got problems. we all got stress.

      share the road. be considerate. simple as that.

      no one owns the left lane. let faster vehicles pass. period.

      God bless the considerate people on country and state roads in west texas. being from indiana and going to big bend i was shocked to see people pull their cars half way off the road to let you pass! and it was a consistent courtesy! loved it…

    • 0 avatar
      its me Dave

      Narrow window? Ronnie’s writing about the excruciating experience of following a trucker going 65 passing one going 64. At 65 mph, a trucker will make 500 miles in 8:42. At 64 mph it’ll take 8:49. It’s okay for him to make an auto sit in the left lane behind him for 5 minutes at a time because he really needs that 7 minutes over an 8 hour period? That just doesn’t seem right.

  • avatar
    MrFixit1599

    I travel all over the midwest to the tune of 50k a year, and I agree that semi’s jockeying back and forth is very irritating.

    I am much more irritated by drivers that refuse to use cruise control, and cannot maintain even close to a continuous speed. There is very little on the road that pisses me off more than a car that comes speeding up and just sits on my left quarter while I have the cruise set in the right lane doing 9 over whatever is legal. Eventually I come up to a vehicle and my 2 choices are hit the brakes and follow this idiot that has been doing the same speed as me, or slam the gas and get back in front of said idiot so they can just do it again.

    Adding to that, people that slow down going under an overpass I will never understand either. Heaven forbid there be an overpass in a slight bend in the road. People always slow down, even on a road perfectly acceptable to do the speed limit on. This causes more traffic jams than anyone notices.

    I could go on and on, but I shall refrain. Maybe after a few more beers I shall return to the subject, but I am getting irritated just thinking about it.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      This. A million times this. My brother(who lives in Ohio, where they are masters at this) and I call them the “60-80 Club”. I set the cruise usually for 10 over and don’t dawdle in the lanes. But the 60-80 club members you pass while doing 70 are doing 60. But in the next few miles, they’re passing you at 80. But then 60 again for no good reason. Other than they don’t know how to use cruise control. Absolutely annoying the 4th time it happens.

      I don’t mind trucks passing, I’ll even flash them over with enough warning.But the 61 vs 60 drag race is ridiculous. Even worse when they don’t move back over with more than enough room (and in light traffic)

      • 0 avatar
        sco

        Was just on I5 San Diego to SF yesterday – trucks doing 61 mph pulling out to slowly pass trucks doing 60mph, happened all day even on the flat with a 70mph speed limit. I’m glad I read the posts here which at least make some sense of the situation. I thought everyone on I5 was in general very civil, 85 mph in the left lane, pull over to the right for anyone wanting to go faster than that, no one using the right lane to pass, let the trucks do their thing when you had to. I was pretty happy out there.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          Yeah, I’ve always found that I-5 in California is pretty serene that way.

          (It’s like that in Oregon and Washington, too, mostly, but in central California it’s more rural and more flat, so the effect is amplified.)

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      @ Mr. Fixit, Imagine if you drove 100K miles a year……you would be twice as irritated….8-)

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      So this — I know so many drivers who won’t use cruise control because they don’t “trust it,” and instead drive between a 15 MPH range of 5 under or 10 over depending on the uphill, downhill, big scary truck they need to pass, turn in road, pace of traffic around them.

      HATE THIS.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      That’s one of my pet peeves too. Tootling along with cruise, someone catches up to me, so according the laws of physics he’s been moving faster than me for some time, then he speed matches me off my left rear fender. For God’s sake, why?

  • avatar
    catachanninja

    There are plenty of exceptions but generally, form my experience working with them for a living truck drivers fall into two categories.

    Employees, generally good guys, they’re in the same boat as you at your job, not bad people, working to make a living.

    Owner operators, I can’t say enough bad things about these sociopaths, The idea that other people exist is totally foreign to them. Whatever ill you can bring to them they certainly deserve as they have wrought unto others. While I won’t go as far as telling you to pour fuel into their def tank they definitely would deserve it.

    Again there’s exceptions, and don’t actually do what i’ve said above, but hey, I’ve had enough of them threaten me with violence over their bad maintenance to be a little sour.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Two speeding tickets in 18 months and the commercial truck driver loses his license. Some insurance companies will force a firing after one ticket.

    Paranoid much?

  • avatar

    Way to make an elephant from a fly. On the other hand, made me click and supply the page impression for the TTAC advertisers… Well played.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    “Meanwhile, you have to slow from your cruising speed and cool your heels..”

    Life is pretty good when this is all you have for The Hague.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Share the road. Have empathy for those who have to deal with limitations of larger vehicles. Be less whiny.

    What’s next, a diatribe about the unfairness of the handicapped getting the best parking spaces?

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Crippled jerks.

      (I kid.

      Then again, I used to drive a 4 cylinder Toyota pickup, loaded with nearly a thousand pounds of gear, through the hilly Northwest.

      I know from being only able to go 45 up an Interstate grade, sometimes being *passed* by tractor-trailer rigs.

      So I have plenty of sympathy there.)

    • 0 avatar
      Japanese Buick

      It only encourages people to be handicapped.

  • avatar
    mikeg216

    Here’s the problem, most fleet trucks are restricted to 65-67 mph, especially so on the east coast. So in a state like Ohio you have the restricted trucks clogging the right lane struggling to make the grade up the long Hills they can’t get over 65 and have rpm lockouts in preservation of that extra. 02 mpg and then you have the owner operator with no restrictions trying to pick his way through this rookie hour mess with a 53 foot trailer and a weight of 80,000 pounds of your consumer goods.

  • avatar
    red60r

    Add me to the roster of those who wish more people would use their cruise control on the Interstates. Most cars these days have that feature, but few drivers seem to be aware of its usefulness. On long highway trips my right foot is rarely on the pedal; most speed adjustments are made with my left thumb. Especially on cars with “drive by wire” throttle systems, the speed control is very precise. The older, vacuum-operated systems moved the pedal through its mechanical linkage, which felt weird and annoying after a while. I have noticed on my latest (2013) Volvo, that even gear changes from auto mode to manual downshifts for engine braking on downhill sections don’t un-set the speed selection. Only the +/-/Off buttons or a tap on the brake will affect that. It has no effect on those slo-mo truck drag races on I-25/40/17 from Denver to Phoenix, however.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    So the right attitude is “stay out of the way of truckers who drive like a**holes because they might murder me?”

    Pretty much yes .

    There’s no win to fighting with truckers .

    I always flash my lights to let them out to pass , most of them cut right back in the instant they rig they just passed , flashed them it’s safe to do so .

    The dumbshytes and belligerent @$$hats , you’re never going to reach/teach them so let it go , have a nice safe trip .

    Too bad the Highway Patrol doesn’t bother stopping these idiots and wasting their time with a lecture before letting them go , this *might* get their attention as in the end , it’s all about money , either in reality or perceived .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    nickoo

    The bottom line is truckers need to get the heck off the road, they drive like as*h* most of the time and destroy the highway with their weight by buckling the roads. Your tax dollars subsidize their business because you pay for road repairs…not to mention extreme amounts of wasted fuel and pollutants. Ban otrlh truckers and ship those goods by rail.

    I don’t have any sympathy for truckers after dealing with multiple harassment and poor driving skill encounters with them on long highway journeys for years now. While we are at it, implement city congestion variable speed limits, faster passing lane speed limits by +5 than the slow lanes and BAN cruise control. I loath peiple who pass on cruise control at +1 so much.

    • 0 avatar
      mr.cranky

      Uhh, no one is taking my cruise control.

      Though I will agree on banning trucking in general. Why not re-purpose former railways as truck routes? It may not be feasible for some places and would create a lot of noise, not to mention the cost. Better yet, go back to the railroads!

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        The rail system in the US is at max capacity. It’s very hard to get rights of way for highways, imagine how hard it is for railroads? There’s a reason why rail capacity hasn’t increased much in the last 30 or so years. It’s the same reason why passenger rail is such a tiny amount of rail traffic in the US, too.

        In addition, shipping by rail takes a lot more planning and coordination, some items don’t travel well by rail. Trucks are a lot more flexible in terms of scheduling and where they can go, which is how they became the predominant shipping method on dry land.

    • 0 avatar
      red60r

      Regardless of the setting, people who drive with cruise control on are more predictable than the ones who become magnetically attached to the door handle of the car they were supposedly passing. Smart drivers spend as little time as possible next to a big rig. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Since virtually everything in your home (from building materials to food) was trasported by truck how do you propose railroads assume those duties? Will the railroad deliver appliances to your house? Ship produce to your local grocery store? Drop consumer goods off at your local Target? Collect the trash?

      Trucks are used because they work all the time virtually everywhere. Nothing else can do that.

  • avatar
    Jean-Pierre Sarti

    Ronnie, i think you are a bit too hard on the truckers with this article but i certainly understand the frustrations.

    I like to travel by road and for me the ratio of other car drivers dishing out the annoyances versus truckers would be 10:1 or more.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    If you want this behaviour to change, you will need to enforce (not just legislate, but actually _enforce_) European-style lane-discipline regulations on American roads.

    This means:
    * Conditional limits based on load/towing, vehicle type and weather conditions
    * Increased police presence (at all times, not just month-end quotas or blitzes) to enforce the above
    * Camera-based enforcement for when police presence isn’t an option.
    * The end of discretionary enforcement and the ability to appeal or bargain down your ticket.
    * Taxes to pay for enforcement and maintenance

    Personally, I would be all for this, but I don’t think that North American drivers are willing or even able to submit to this kind of enforced social contract on the road. You’d be asking people to un-learn a culture of entitlement.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Truckers aren’t violating the law by doing this. If anything, most US states have higher speed limits for big rigs than do European countries (where the 100 km/h truck limit is common.)

      It’s a non-issue. Some people just need to learn to be patient. A truck is not a sports car.

      That being said, it wouldn’t hurt if there were laws that kept trucks out of the passing lane. One thing that Germany and California have in common is that trucks are not allowed to use more than the first two lanes of an autobahn/freeway, which leaves a truck-free passing lane when there are three lanes or more.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “Truckers aren’t violating the law by doing this.

        it wouldn’t hurt if there were laws that kept trucks out of the passing lane.”

        That was where I was heading: what Europeans laws do is force trucks into the rightmost lane(s) and restrict their speed limits. The result is that they cannot do the passing-lane dance, and the fleet managers that enable and encourage this behaviour, well, can’t.

        The point is this would be regulation and enforcement. The kind of obstruction-free motoring that we admire in Europe comes at the cost of personal responsibility.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          As noted, California already does this.

          The trucking lobby objects to the lower truck speed limit there and in other states, and they do have some evidence to support that position. But I would argue that trucks lack the braking capability and tires to justify going much above 60 mph.

    • 0 avatar
      hiptech

      @psarhjinian

      I fully agree with you… it would also help to have a uniform set of traffic laws for the entire country and not countless variations set by states.

      • 0 avatar
        S197GT

        hiptech,

        it’s called federalism. and i’d like to stick with it:

        “A system of government in which power is divided between a national (federal) government and various regional governments. As defined by the United States Constitution, federalism is a fundamental aspect of American government, whereby the states are not merely regional representatives of the federal government, but are granted independent powers and responsibilities. With their own legislative branch, executive branch, and judicial branch, states are empowered to pass, enforce, and interpret laws, provided they do not violate the Constitution. This arrangement not only allows state governments to respond directly to the interests of their local populations, but also serves to check the power of the federal government.”

        http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/federalism

  • avatar
    LALoser

    Yes, trucks tend to jump into a passing lane so they do not have to downshift, or loss momentum going up hill…thinking Grapevine, anyone?
    I have lived in several large cities throughout Asia, M/E and so on. Most have a law I think is great: No trucks, (lorries on up), on city roads or highways at rush hours. In Bangkok it is between 6-9A and 3-6P for instance. That law really helps the flow of traffic…think Long Beach or Tacoma with the port traffic and commuters.

  • avatar
    Big Wheel

    It’s been noted in a few posts already, but the problem is really just the speed limiters. Most, if not all, the large trucking fleets have speed limiters (mph), most being capped at 62 mph. Some trucks have two: one for being on the foot pedal (62) & a slightly higher one for use in cruise control (63 or 64). This is to encourage the use of CC, & its resulting better fuel economy. When you own thousands of trucks, every 0.1 mpg counts.

    Owner/operators will typically run a higher limiter, if at all.

  • avatar
    haroldingpatrick

    I’m not sure who is the bigger fool – the truck driver in the left lane or the clump of 4 wheelers riding his and each other’s bumper less than a second apart for miles?

    It’s certainly a frustrating situation, but much less stressful when observing a reasonable following distance. I used to be a fool riding bumpers, now I just hang out stress free in the right lane until the bumper riding clump gets by and then hop in the left lane to pass. Easy pleasy lemon sqeezy.

  • avatar
    hiptech

    All this speaks to a wider more systemic set of issues that have plagued us for decades… driver intolerance, indifference, inattentiveness and lack of fundamental courtesy.

    I’ve always believed the ability to obtain a driver’s license in the US is far too easy and is viewed more as a “right” than a “privilege” by too many ppl. Especially by state agencies too eager to keep that revenue stream rolling in rather than doing the right thing. As many of you know it is far more difficult (and expensive) to obtain a DL in Europe than here in the US.

    I personally know of a 90 year old man who now has dementia, should no longer be allowed to drive and his family is powerless to get the CA DMV from rescinding his license! Think about how many ppl we see commuting daily who appear to be driving when clearly they are not. They’re looking down and texting or performing some other non-driving activities.

    Caterpillar has now been using autonomous haulage trucks in closed environments for several years now. Their business case is based on this statement, “This is not about displacing people from jobs. We are removing people from what has often been a dangerous job, ill-suited to people, and those same people have other opportunities…”

    I think we all can see the writing on the walls for the future. As much as it pains me to say this autonomous cars are on the way and if they succeed in supplanting us from manually driving we only have ourselves to blame…

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I can barely tolerate the 1 MPH drag race but the one that drives me insane is when you see a long line of trucks, there is an incline coming and one of the trucks pulls out of line to “pass” on the uphill. Instead they lose all momentum and block the passing lane, traveling slower than the line of trucks in the right lane that are now creeping past them. They then turn on their turn signal in a hopeless attempt to get back into the line of trucks – and none of them will give the driver a gap because it means they will lose momentum too. By the time you are at the top of the hill the left lane truck is 10 to 15 MPH under the rest of the trucks now streaming by, on the downhill they drop to the back of the pack and sheepishly disappear in the distance.

    Whiskey – Tango – Fox-Trot

  • avatar
    319583076

    My question for Ronnie and the B&B is this:

    You’re doing 65 mph in the left-hand lane of a multi-lane highway or interstate with a 60 mph speed limit. There is sporadic traffic in the right-hand lanes.

    You notice another light vehicle behind you closing at a rapid pace, do you adjust your speed to find space in the adjacent right-hand lane to let the vehicle behind you pass at speed or do you maintain your position and speed, yielding the left lane at your leisure assuming the oncoming vehicle hasn’t changed lanes to pass you on the right?

    • 0 avatar
      LALoser

      I always speed up and get out of the way when possible.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Me too – speed up and get out of the way, unless Waze is showing LEO is within a 1/2 a mile – after passing LEO then speed up and get out of the way.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I pull over and get out of the way; that way we maximize the rate of flow.

      Left lane is for passing, not for “eventually passing a bunch of people while someone waits for me to get out of the way”.

      (Like LALoser says, if you’re near the head of the group you’re passing, speeding up temporarily is a good option, too.)

    • 0 avatar
      LUNDQIK

      Nice question!

      If I’m honest I’d defer to that “social construct” the author mentioned. Courtesy vs. intimidation.

      If I’m the leader in the left hand lane (or there’s a large space between me and the car ahead) I will yeild to the faster car behind me, even if this means a temporary speed up or slow down to get into the right lane.

      That said, if the car in front of me is also doing the same speed, I likely won’t move OR if I’m doing a reasonable fast rate of speed (say 75-80 in a 65) and the guy behind me wants to do well in excess (e.g. 100+). It’ll depend. I treat those guys like fast motorcycles. The rate of approach is so fast they may look to pass me on the right so I just hold position and wait to see what they do. If they ride me for a bit, I will begrudingly throw the blinker on. (I’m too old now to be a lane hog and driving rush hour all these years makes me realize its not worth the added stress.)

  • avatar
    zbnutcase

    80% of these long haul dirtbag clowns don’t even speak English. Think they are worried about being sued? Would not even show up to court. I won’t mention these filthbags hygene habits.

  • avatar
    redliner

    I hate these petty mind games people play on the highway. We all need to be somewhere. The road is no more his than it is mine. I only wish that passing etiquette could be given more emphasis.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      +1. You want to go fast? I’m more than happy to get out of your way, please do the same for me if our roles are reversed. And don’t ride my damn bumper. That’s about all it takes to make me a happy road warrior.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    This is an interesting philosophical question.
    Do you retain the right to complain about a supply chain when you benefit from it’s existence and configuration?
    Do we tacitly agree to requirements and efficiencies that force truckers to drive in a certain way if we directly benefit from those requirements in the form of reduced prices? If so, should we really be taken seriously if we complain later about the side effects?

  • avatar
    mikedt

    Gotta say, while I do see the described activity on occasion, it is by no means prevalent or the norm. I have far more trouble/gripes/beefs with brain dead car drivers than I do tractor trailer drivers.

  • avatar
    JK43123

    This is exactly why I only enjoy driving on back roads any more. Sometimes I think truckers do this deliberately to show who’s boss.

    John

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    I guess changing the SkyNet trucker logging software to allow driver JUDGEMENT regarding passing speed is impossible.

    Slightly OT:
    RS:>>If you’re doing a socially acceptable cruising speed in the left lane, you shouldn’t have to slow down because someone in the right lane waits until the last possible second before pulling in front of you to make a pass.<<

    Lane discipline and courtesy are SO yesterday and quaint.
    If a state level Snowden were to data-mine ticket records, the ratio of chicken-sh!t speeding tickets vrs unsafe lane change tickets would probably be 1000 to 1. Also, lane change cut-off artists are probably 10x more likely to have an outstanding warrant necessitating arrest and a DoublePlusUngood Revenue Hit.

  • avatar
    markf

    I live i Germany, this article exactly describes the driving experience of the fabled autobahn. Most stretches are two lanes, with the right lane chocked with trucks limited to 80 or 90km. Trucks swing out into the left lane (this happens on the unrestricted as well as speed limited portions) seemingly always on an incline and the 91 vs. 90kmh drag race begins.

    It’s not just American truckers, trust me…….

  • avatar
    Frylock350

    Like most behaviors my reaction to it depends on context. Is this occuring on a vacant rural highway where I’m the only vehicle on the road besides these two? Then yeah the truck driver is a douche. He could have seen me coming; let me go; and then attempt his pass. If it in a more urban setting with denser traffic and he seized the first opening he had? Then I’m annoyed at having to slow down, but not angry; dude’s gotta pass sometime.

    I understand that many truckers are under obscene scrutiny to both gets somewhere on time and to minimize the costs of doing to. They have a litany of electronic big brother devices keeping track of everything they do. Their location, speed, use of gas/brake, etc are all tracked and reported on. Many companies have rules as to how fast the trucker is allowed to drive and with the electronic surveillance they’re not just on the honor system. I can totally understand why they may not just take a hard stab at the accelerator to pass.

    My rule of thumb while driving it that I’ll stay in the rightmost lane that will accommodate my chosen speed (or as close to that speed as is possible). I will change lanes left or right as traffic conditions alter the speed of lanes. I expect the same out of other drivers. If you’re in front of me going slower than me I’m only going to get upset if you’re also going slower than traffic in the lane to your right. Otherwise carry on; you are driving in the correct lane to accommodate your desired speed. It would be completely selfish for me to demand that other drivers slow down to get out of my way. On the flip side, if I’m going 75mph in the left lane because the right lane is going 65mph; I’m not slowing down so you can do 80mph. That said if I want to pass a car I don’t just marginally accelerate; I match the speed of the lane I’m using to pass. If I want to go 65mph and I need to pass a chain of cars going 60mph and the lane next to me is doing 80? I speed up to 80 to complete my pass. Why? So I’m not “that guy” that slows down other people for my own needs.

    If I apply that idea along with my knowledge of the trucker’s working conditions to this situation I’m not mad at the trucker (unless traffic is really light and he chose to not let me pass first; that’s a douche move) for choosing the lane that will accommodate his faster speed; even though its only marginally faster.

    EDIT: If you live in a major city like I do the left-most lane isn’t for passing, its just another lane of traffic. There aren’t enough lanes for a dedicated pass lane.

  • avatar
    Searcher

    Been driving a truck for a couple years now so I’m still a Rookie but I can still provide a few observations.

    Loaded truck acceleration is such that passes are set in motion when you’re still a speck in the mirror and there’s no real way to judge closing rates at that distance. Loaded truck braking is such that backing out of a pass once set in motion isn’t the easiest thing there ever was. I’ve also found that passing a truck that’s a bit slower than mine ends up being easier in the long run due to differing truck capabilities. If I try to stay behind I end up constantly having to make corrections of one sort or another. Much easier to just pass him. FWIW I’ve taken to running 62mph so I have 3mph reserve to pass if I have to. It also helps get a Fuel Bonus

    Passing on grades. Yes you have to stay in the powerband and that’s different for every truck depending on engine, trans, rear axles, and weight is also a factor. A driver might have been overtaking a truck in front quickly only to find out that he runs out of steam sooner than he’d thought while the other guy has leveled off and isn’t losing speed anymore. Lifting is a good way to find yourself crawling to the top since momentum lost isn’t likely to be regained and downshifts cost momentum too.

    Still, I find too many drivers are pushing harder than I would but they’re probably trying to get the job done and go home on routes that make getting it done on a shift a challenge. If they don’t make it back to the yard they don’t get to go home that night and have to stay in the truck. This is a side effect of Hours of Service regulations. There’s also the effects of caffeine and sugar (at the least) in keeping Drivers wired to go, go, go.

    And yeah, some are just flat dicks but they’re also dicks when they’re driving their cars too. Just not as noticeable.

  • avatar
    ninjacommuter

    Motorcycle Theory:

    It doesn’t matter who is at fault, when an accident occurs, you lose.

    This would seem to apply in this case as well.

  • avatar
    JimsTR3

    I didn’t read the entire thread so apologies if someone else has already made this point;

    It seems to me that this industry will be radically affected when self-driving technology is perfected. Imagine a truck that only needs to stop for fuel and maintenance, and could care less about time since it can roll almost 24/7, nose to tail in the right hand lane with all those other trucks (in the US anyway).

    I also wonder at the potential displacement of all of those drivers. It will be ugly.

  • avatar
    Grahambo

    Ronnie,

    Excellent post. Very curious as to your impressions of the IS350 F-Sport. Was it a RWD or AWD? In either case, how did it handle the poor weather conditions?

  • avatar
    Chan

    I’m surprised at the bias against truckers here. This sort of reads like, “Hey truckers, get off my roads and haul your bricks, testosterone and misogynist jokes somewhere else!”

    In my experience, the far bigger problem is cars mindlessly dive-bombing into and out of truck-occupied lanes, as if 18-wheelers can brake like their Ford Explorers.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      +∞

      Absolutely no one here even tried to remember one of the ending sentences: “Truck drivers indeed move the goods upon which we rely in our modern lives.”

  • avatar
    stckshft

    Virtually every heavy truck made in the past 15 years has a drive by wire Cat, Cummins or Detroit under the hood. All the corporate owned trucks are set up by the company to limit speed and HP. Yes they can be “turned up” but to save the company money, i.e. increase profit, the engine parameters are fixed for economy. So when the truck goes to pass you bet it’ll be a long wait behind that rig. Yes the driver’s can certainly do a much better job to mitigate the logjam they leave behind. But the old days of the American Cowboy “eastbound and down” are long gone.

  • avatar
    Charliej

    I was driving from central Mexico to the Alabama gulf coast about twice a year. This is a three thousand mile round trip. Truthfully, I did not find too many truckers blocking the road. The last trip, back in March, the wife and I left the car with our son in Alabama. We caught a Turimex bus and rode the bus back to Mexico. I really think that this will be the way that we travel in the future. Thirty hours on the bus versus two and half days in the car. Plus the bus is cheaper. If you have never ridden on one of the luxury buses in Mexico, you don’t know what you have missed. We made new friends on the bus as well as amazing the Mexicanos, who had never seen an Anglo riding the Mexican bus.

  • avatar
    dragthemagicpuffin

    Man the trucker hate on this site is a little ridiculous…seems to boil down to “all truckers are belligerent morons!” Kinda works the same way racism and sexism do…a black guy sells drugs in your neighborhood or f***s your daughter and all of a sudden ALL of them are drug-dealing rapists or something based on your limited anecdotal evidence. Or you have a couple bad relationships and all of a sudden ALL WOMEN are lying, cheating gold-diggers who can’t keep their legs shut for five minutes.

    You have a couple bad experiences with idiot truckers on the road and all of a sudden ALL TRUCKERS are useless, belligerent a**hats who just personally have it out for you and want you to suffer, because they know it’s you and they hate you.

  • avatar

    I think it’s all drivers, but truckers are bigger so more noticeable. There is a certain social contract of driving etiquette that would make the roads safer and quicker for all if followed. My personal motto is to “never force someone else to react to what I’m doing.” I can drive like an ass, so long as it doesn’t force you to change what your doing, it’s actually pretty safe.
    1. No matter how fast I’m going, if you want to go faster I should move over.
    2. If there is a known merge ahead, take your turn and zipper in.
    3. Stay in the middle or right lane when possible.
    4. Don’t expect someone else to brake for you.
    5. If you have the right away, don’t yield to “be nice”.

    I find Toyota drivers to be some of the worse offenders (though oddly Prius drivers seem to often pass me). Speed may be involved in a fair number of accidents, but I often feel as though someone is driving slow in order to slow me down for my own safety. Thanks, I got the government to nanny me already. People reacting to slow drivers at moderate speeds above posted limits is probably a better description of a major factor of accidents.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      1 and 5 are soo important. I had some road rage when I almost ass-ended someone who suddenly stopped in the middle of the road to let someone turn out of a parking lot across traffic in front of them just this morning. The worst part is, it would have been my fault for hitting them. But seriously, who the freak stops in the middle of the road, it defies convention! Can’t people just follow the darn rules? Also, its not my or anyone else’s job to play speed police, move over if someone wants to pass.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        “The worst part is, it would have been my fault for hitting them”

        Yes, that’s why there is something called a safe following distance. The next time it may be a car jamming to a halt to avoid hitting a dog or fallen cyclist or kid.

    • 0 avatar
      theonewhogotaway

      “I find Toyota drivers to be some of the worse offenders”

      Totally Concur. Campy and Corolla is the new Buick.

  • avatar
    theonewhogotaway

    All you need is a bunch of “No Trucks on the Left Lane” signs on every highway and state troopers to do their job.

    Game over.

  • avatar
    sgtyukon

    Shortly after I got my driver’s license a semi pulled the exact maneuver you described on the NY Thruway, only I was next to him, not stuck behind, and had to run off the road at 65-70 mph. So, truckers have been driving like that forever.

    The oposite of this maneuver also happens all the time, trucks that go as fast as possible down big hills I had one tailgating me on I95 just north of Baltimore in the snow in January. And I’ve experienced it on I81 on both sides of Roanoke. That was worse than the I95 experience because the hills aroind Roanoke are steeper. Don’t know if it’s still true (and do know if it is it isn’t enforced), but when I lived in Virginia more than 40 years ago a semi in the left lane was reckless driving by definition. Off the top of my head, that’s the only good Virginia traffic law I can think of.

  • avatar
    Toad

    Ronnie, I own multiple trucks and strongly suggest you try to do a ride along with a Detroit area truck driver. When you see what’s involved in getting and keeping an 18 wheeler on the road it will be eye opening. Seeing how some asshat car drivers behave around much larger trucks that could easily kill them would also be enlightening.

  • avatar
    Roland

    Speed often varies in highway driving. Of course, most of my driving takes place in British Columbia, where many of the highways are steep, winding 2-lane roads with soft shoulders. It’s not a cruise control kind of country.

    I’ve had very few problems with the big trucks. When driving on mountain highways in BC, the far bigger problem is with fools losing their patience and trying to overtake long columns of vehicles heedless of the centreline markings or of oncoming traffic. Even when they’re successful, they just end up stuck behind the next big column of traffic a kilometre further up the road.

    That’s how I learned that some men are simply destined to spend their entire lives with their noses wedged between another man’s buttocks.

  • avatar
    VolandoBajo

    I have never driven a semi. Years ago, as a young man, I did drive a Marine Corps Amtrac (not Amtrak!) and in civilian life trucks up to a deuce and half, only locally.

    But I recognize how the fleet operators are constrained by their nanny monitors, and for the most part, they have all been courteous when I have seen them driving. And I drove a lot until I retired…often over a thousand miles a week, sometimes commuting to a contract job a couple of hours away.

    And I have seen truckers do some pretty impressive driving under nasty conditions. Once had to come back form upper Vermont to NYC, having gotten caught off guard by a freak heavy blizzard. Coming down the Interstate that runs N-S in VT, in a quick Rabbit beefed up suspension, I came up behind a gasoline tanker, and elected to hang back about a quarter of a mile, where I could barely see his taillights during daylight, rather than try to pass, even though there were literally NO other cars in sight for some time.

    We were both clocking about 35. All of a sudden a classic GMC lead sled full of what were probably a bunch of college kids on their way home or back to school, came screaming by me going close to seventy in insane sleet/hail/black ice road conditions. They were fishtailing slightly, but refused to slow down.

    When they went past the gasoline truck, they came to a slight curve, tapped the brakes, and began spinning like a pinwheel about a hundred yards ahead of the tanker.

    The tanker driver did a masterful job of fanning the brakes, not jacknifing, and dodging the lead sled. Shortly after he got by them they ended up in the median strip, facing the wrong way.

    I had to fan my brakes like mad too, as I had not expected to have to make a panic stop, and I certainly didn’t thank a semi could stop as fast as he did. Barely had time to slow down before hitting his rear end, maybe ten or fifteen car lengths, which was nothing with the roadway that slick.

    We both stopped at the next rest stop, and both needed a cup of coffee. He said he was glad I managed to stop so quickly as he was afraid of being trapped between the two cars, ahead and behind. And I thanked him for keeping his rig shiny side up ahead of me. And we both marvelled at the stupidity of the lead sled driver, thinking he could keep it under control at twice the speed we were going. Shared a moment of the brotherhood of the road, and went our ways.

    We both could see the occupants of the other car were unharmed, except for some serious damage to their nerves, I’m sure, so we left it to the Highway Patrol to come along and dig them out of the ditch they were sitting in. That or they could walk the couple of miles to the next exit. I think we were both afraid we were likely to go ballistic on the driver of the lead sled if we had any more interaction with him, and rightly so, I say.

    But I am convinced he showed as much skill as any NASCAR driver, or Formula driver, and if he had not, I could have ended up being the oversized match that lit that tanker up.

    Since that time, thirty some years ago, I have had nothing but respect for the professionalism and skill of OTR truck drivers. And I have always found that if you show them a little respect, give them a bit of signal help and maybe back off a bit when they want to change a lane, they will inevitably return the favor if they get the chance.

    I just don’t understand all this hatred for truck drivers. And I say that even though I got rear ended by one driving out of Canada with dubious paperwork, shortly after NAFTA. One bad apple doesn’t make the whole orchard into a compost pile.

    I’ll take a fleet of trucks on the highway with me, over a handful of some of the oblivious and self-nominated as entitled drivers that frequent the roads here in the Northeast, and a lot of other places as well.

    DC, we see you! NYC, you don’t look too bad, after we pass through Boston. But in the end, butthead drivers are butthead drivers, wherever you run into them, literally or figuratively.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    The truckers are actually saving you fuel when they force you to drive slower, and if they wanted to conserve fuel they’d stay in the right lane and drive slower too.

  • avatar
    otter

    I see this as, at least in part, symptomatic of the poor level of driving ability in the US compared to, say, western and northern Europe. I think it is best dealt with by laws requiring trucks to either stay in the right lane only or out of the left lane under all circumstances, and ruthless (if necessary) enforcement of these laws. I do believe that drivers of vehicles have a responsibility for other road users (or people in the public space) that are more vulnerable than they are, and everyone is more vulnerable than someone in a loaded Class 8 semi.

  • avatar
    DrGastro997

    The old saying truckers are “gentlemen of the road” doesn’t apply anymore. Perhaps like many countries truckers should be heavily restricted to the designated truck lane- passing only when necessary and returning to your lane.

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