BLOG: A Question of Etiquette
I was pretty lucky when i was a boy and able to make trips with my daddy and grand daddy, and their friends. If you know anything about old truckers, you know that they have the gift for GAB. And they naturally love to share what they know with anyone who has the patience to listen — even if you don't.
But boy did i listen. When you're a young impressionable kid and get to be in a big rig with the roar of the big diesel, the smell of grease and oil, the sound of the air brakes and the air horn, it all makes a big impression. This was in the day when trucks carried a spare tire on a rack, a jack and a wheel wrench. (Very few drivers hadn't changed one of those monsters in the snow or rain some where along the road at least once.) When i was finally able to get my CDL at 18 , I already had a pretty good grasp on what trucking was all about but had a lot of learning to do.
At that time, trucking was done by proud, honorable men (there were some women as well at that time, but they were few.) Employer's had loyalty to their drivers and the drivers returned that loyalty to them. There was a lot of respect to go around.
In fact, if one of the old timers saw any disrespect from me to another driver, mechanic, dockhand or supervisor, they would quickly straighten me out with a quick boot in the ass. They led by example, and held me to the same example.
It was a day when you would never pass and not stop behind a broken down vehicle on the highway, especially another big truck because someone could always use a hand, need a tool, or anti-freeze or oil or whatever. You were glad if you could be of help. And you knew if you broke down, it wouldn't be long before another truck would come along to help you out as well. It was respect and etiquette.
Now then, if a may share just one item of etiquette that I hope you can put into practice and let rub off on those drivers that you may mentor in the future.
Here's the scenario: you're travelling at your chosen road speed down a ribbon of two lane highway. You do one of your mirror checks and you notice a big rig in your mirror. Your first thought should be: looks like this big rigger is travelling faster than i am, and may want to pass me.
Now what do you do?
Not yet, anyway. Keep going at the speed you were going. The driver behind you has already sized up the situation and decided to either follow you at your speed or will pick a safe spot on the highway to pass you.
If he decides to follow you at your speed, he will likely hang back a few truck lengths and that's the last thought you need to have on the matter.
If he decides to pass, this is when you should make the choice to be courteous to your fellow driver: DO NOT SPEED UP. Let him pass — in fact, ideally, if it's safe to do so, slow down a wee bit so the other driver is not left hanging out there in the oncoming lane for an unsafe amount of time. He's driving a big truck too, just like you, and we don't want any accidents!
The same thing applies on the three lane passing lane areas. If you are being followed by a long line of cars and other trucks because you are loaded heavy or are travelling slower than the other traffic, then DO NOT SPEED UP when you reach the passing lane. Be courteous, let the faster vehicles pass, and just ease up a bit if you can.
Don't be shy to show the rest of the travelling world that you are a proud and honorable truck driver.
It's simple etiquette.