I had the privilege to go chicken hauling in July 2009. I have never hauled chicken before and my fear is based on the number of accidents that I have had to write about and trucker’s stories about how the equipment reacts.
I was excited about doing the run to finally see with my own two eyes the activities involved at the farm. I’ve never been close to chicken other than a big ole bucket of it from KFC.
So taking you back to the early morning at 5am on a clear night where the sun still hasn’t come up, I began to pull out of the driveway and onto a narrow gravel concession. Thankfully, the farmer has realized the need to have the driveway widened for large transport trucks.
HERE’S MY VERSION OF THE EVENT:
I pulled out of the laneway slowly and put the tractor onto a grassy area on the far side of the road to ensure my trailer wasn’t going to fall into a ditch. I had on my rear lights to shine back to see the path of the trailer wheels.
I quickly looked forward to see where the truck was going and continuing to rely on my mirrors to make my turn. I wasn’t going very fast. My eyes noticed my back lights were still on after I cleared the driveway and so I decided to try to turn the lights off. In leaning forward to get the switch behind the driver’s wheel, I felt the front end of the truck drop off the road. I must have leaned on the wheel and pulled it to the right in order for this to happen.
I quickly straightened the wheel and now with right wheels of the whole truck on the gravel shoulder, with a ditch just right there. I kept it straight and edged toward bringing it back on the road without tipping. My nerves were shot because I could see myself tipping over on a part of a road which I never anticipated.
HERE’S THE REALITY OF THE SAME EVENT:
It wasn’t till a couple days later that I started talking to my passenger (who was on board the truck and in the passenger seat at the same time) about the same events. His version and mine are completely different.
He says I was so busy concentrating on the mirrors in trying to avoid the trailer falling into the ditch as I came onto the road. He says once I had gotten onto the road I had never straightened my vehicle up to match the road’s direction. He says if I would have kept the wheel straight, and been any faster, I would have headed right for the ditch on a 15 degree angle.
Here I thought I must have leaned on the wheel to pull it to the right when I went to turn off the back lights, but because the front end fell off the road at the same time, my memory is different because there was so much going on.
What is consistent is that I was trying to do too much at the same time. I shouldn’t have been worried about turning off the lights until I knew for certain that I was on the road in a safe manner.
It’s no wonder why some trucking companies put cameras watching their drivers and the road while driving to find out what actually happens. LRFT doesn’t have that technology, but it would clearly show what actually happened.
I knew I was distracted, but I didn’t realize that my recollection was so different from the reality of what actually happened. Knowing that scares me greatly and prepares me to avoid the same mistake in the future.