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Author Topic: Eagles and accidents...  (Read 2835 times)
HighTechRedneck
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« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2007, 02:17:04 PM »


What the hell is wrong with drivers today???  They are complete idiots.

I think a mandatory driving school should be in order for all new drivers.  I mean a decent driving course which also teaches road etiquette and some insight on driving large vehicles.  I don't recall when in High School drivers ed was I taught anything about what large truck operators endure.


I know exactly what you mean.  It seems like drivers have gotten more and more obsessive about "protecting" their lane or position in their lane from merging or lane changing drivers of any size vehicle.  When I lived out in Los Angeles it got to where we almost didn't dare to turn on the turn signal or somebody would floor it just to keep you from moving into their lane.  And that was when I was just driving a car. Because of that, sometimes we didn't use signals at all during lane changes (it wasn't right, but ...)  But now when I am driving a 32,000 bus, I resist the temptation to force my way through it and just take my time.  I would rather lose an hour or more driving time per day than risk an accident in my bus and the potential for injuring or killing innocent others.  It's ironic, driving a big heavy vehicle has done more to mellow me than just about anything else.

I know when I was in drivers ed, they didn't teach anything about giving extra room to large vehicles and I haven't seen it on driving tests.  I'm not sure it would make much difference but maybe this is something we all should write our state legislators about and see if they can have it added to the driving tests.  Maybe including it on the shock video shown in drivers ed (do they still do that?) would make more of an impact on new drivers.

Meanwhile, we can't count on others to be better drivers.  So I just take my time and be patient and careful.  Life and health is more valuable than my time.
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Clarke Echols
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« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2007, 03:46:55 PM »

On night many years ago (1980s), I was northbound on I-25 north of Denver at about milepost 225 doing
about 62 when I came up on a guy in something like a Camaro doing about 60.  I pulled out to pass, then
he started speeding up.  I punched the accelerator on the '78 Caddy I was driving and finally got around
him at about 75 or so and pulled back in.  He slowed down, I slowed down and everything was fine until
a mile or two later when he passed me on the inside lane doing about 10 mph faster than I, then he
pulled back in front of me and let up on his throttle (I could see the fire popping out of his exhaust as the
engine "backfired" a bit).

I was happy as long as he stayed in front of me far enough and didn't slow down to below my speed...

Then along came an 18-wheeler that passed me and pulled back between me and the guy in the
other car.  Still OK.

Suddenly the trucker's brake lights came on (we're at about milepost 231 or 232 by then).  I hit my
brakes because I couldn't pass.  The inside lane was packed with other vehicles.  We got down to about
20 mph and the inside-lane vehicles were long gone, so I pulled out to pass the truck.  He was
hauling a light-weight cargo or running empty, so he was accelerating unusually well.  I was on the
inside lane, he on the outside.  I assumed the guy in the car had hit his brakes and caused this whole
mess, but as I got close to the drive axles on the truck, I couldn't see the car.  Wondering where
it was, I discovered the clown was running on the shoulder lane.

The next thing I knew, the truck was on the shoulder and there was an empty lane between us!
The trucker had run the guy and his car into the ditch.  YES!!!!!!  :-) :-) :-) :-)  Since the truck was
gaining speed well and I didn't want to play leap-frog, I dropped back and pulled in behind him.

Ere long, the guy in the car came up out of the ditch and was bearing down on me directly behind
me in the same lane.  I decided to retaliate and hit my brakes -- HARD!  He plowed into my rear end.
I was expecting to get the cops in on it, but he took off like he was in a bit of a hurry.  I gave chase,
but at 85 mph I was losing him.  He took exit 235 so I followed him up the ramp to the stop sign.
He barely stopped, then turned left and headed toward Boulder like he was anxious to get away
from the situation, so I pulled into the truck stop there and called the State Patrol.  The trooper
showed up so I filed a hit-and-run with license number and description.

The trooper's response was interesting:  "I wish you people would equip your vehicles with some
sort of shaft sticking out the back of your car above the bumper so when this kind of stuff happens,
it puts a hole in the other guy's radiator when he hits you, and we can find him a few miles down
 the road with a dead [blown] engine."

When I told another trooper later about it, he called it "highway justice".

Moral:  When you're in a  small car, don't mess with trucks.  You'll lose -- every time.

P.S.:  In my original post, the message was to be careful about safety factors when choosing between
brands and models, and stack the odds in your favor as much as practicable.  'Tis true, there is very
little protection in front of you in a bus and a whole lot of weight behind.  If you hit a car, it's bad
for the other guy.  But if you hit a truck, you're in trouble, so stay wwwaaaaayyyyyy back.  And if
you're in an Eagle, be aware you have an additional risk because your legs are low enough to get
clipped by a lot of vehicles that would tend to go under you in a higher coach.  Still, when you hit
a big truck, it's a completely different story.

I saw a charter bus in a Denver impound yard about 1984.  The right-front was damaged from
hitting a power pole.  Turns out the driver took the ditch to avoid a car making a left turn in front
of him.  Hit the pole instead of the young female driver in the car.  She was drunk.  He died.

In 1976 when I was roofing my house one day, I heard jake brakes to the south.  A ready-mix
concrete truck was headed down the hillside to the west (north-south street).  A kid in a
Mustang had decided to do a U-turn in front of the truck, and the trucker took the ditch by
turning suddenly left across the south-bound lane (2 lanes then, 5 now).  It was the ONLY
place in 600 feet where he could have done that without rolling the truck.  When he got
out, he was as pale as a sheet and shaking.  But the truck stayed upright.

2 hours later, the cop was still in his cruiser talking to the kid!  I can only imagine what the
conversation may have been like.

We see a lot.  About 20,000 cars per day go in front of our house, and I've helped flag
traffic when construction projects are going on.  I am convinced a lot of drivers get their
licenses at Kmart "blue light specials".  But some new truckers don't seem much better...
Alas.

Clarke
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JerryH
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« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2007, 05:57:05 PM »

Quote
But now when I am driving a 32,000 bus, I resist the temptation to force my way through it and just take my time.  I would rather lose an hour or more driving time per day than risk an accident in my bus and the potential for injuring or killing innocent others.

HighTechRedneck:

My reference to using my turn signals (darn near) at the last moment during our recent return from FL wasn't a suggestion to "...to force my way through it ..."  If I can't safely execute a lane change ... I don't do it. 

Jerry H.
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HighTechRedneck
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« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2007, 06:45:07 PM »

Quote
But now when I am driving a 32,000 bus, I resist the temptation to force my way through it and just take my time.  I would rather lose an hour or more driving time per day than risk an accident in my bus and the potential for injuring or killing innocent others.

HighTechRedneck:

My reference to using my turn signals (darn near) at the last moment during our recent return from FL wasn't a suggestion to "...to force my way through it ..."  If I can't safely execute a lane change ... I don't do it. 

Jerry H.

Sorry, I didn't say it very well.  I didn't mean the "forcing" point to be aimed at you, but rather at my experiences in LA and as advisement to all drivers in general. 

When I was in LA and just driving a car, lane changing with proper signals had become almost futile.  Many drivers could be such jerks that sometimes the temptation was strong to just push your way into the other lane and I must admit to having done just that a few times. (a few years living and working in LA gives one a good personal understanding of road rage)  Now that I drive my bus, I have seen that temptation a few times when some idiot in a small car would start playing "defend my lane" when I turn on the turn signal.  But now with the wisdom of a few more years under my belt and the added responsibility that comes with 32,000 pounds of steel, I resist that temptaton and just wait them out.
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NJT 5573
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« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2007, 12:58:13 AM »

I can't resist on this one. My first trip into LA was a sleeper team. I was the rookie. My first driver insisted that I let my turn signal flash three times only, then I was to take that lane. He said it was how to drive in LA. That was in 1969. Yes, I still drive my truck like that in LA. Its better to be behind the truck than torn up. Even in an Eagle, heck just let a car between you for a cushion.
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HighTechRedneck
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« Reply #20 on: January 05, 2007, 06:53:49 AM »

Even in an Eagle, heck just let a car between you for a cushion.

I hope you are just saying that tongue in cheek.  Those "cushions" contain people, often children, and generally have 100% fatalities when caught between two trucks or other heavy vehicles.

Driving in LA can be frustrating in a car.  I can't even imagine how aggravating it would be as a commercial truck driver who is accountable to a schedule and limitations on hours behind the wheel.  Leaving adequate braking distance ahead there is even more futile than turn signals in lane changing.
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« Reply #21 on: January 05, 2007, 08:34:36 AM »

NJT5573- sounds like you've had some reallllly baadddd advice on how to drive, your misconceptions about retreads, etc.  I live in L.A. and drove cross country truck for 21 years.  I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the L.A. drivers are some of the more considerate drivers in the country (have to be with the number of cars on the road).  Most people from the country just can't take the fast pace, so then another misconception happens saying that the drivers are forceful in L.A.-when in fact, you're just not able to keep up with the pace.  I'd rather put up with the heavy traffic in L.A. because we have numerous alternative routes we can take.  Cities like Seattle-you'll either run out of road or into a water way; Chicago, Boston, New York, most cities on the east coast you'll most likely run into a short bridge.  The city I liked best for getting around was Minneapolis/St. Paul.  Look on a map sometime at how the twin cities are completely cris crossed with freeways. 

If you pull that 3 turn signal trick here in L.A., you'll most likely come across someone that won't move, then you'll be at fault for running into them-sounds smart to me!  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #22 on: January 05, 2007, 09:23:34 AM »

If you haven't grown up in Californication and learned to drive in our congested freeways, some of the things you see can really be thought of as "crazy".

LA drivers are the absolute masters of the "Off-Ramp Lane Change" manoeuver - At the last minute crossing four lanes of traffic doing 70 mph to take the next off-ramp.  Have seen it performed countless times, and the natives don't even hit the brakes.

It's the tourists that panic. . . and then the whole freeway comes to a stop.   Cheesy

On a more serious note (the last two paragraphs above were humor, folk), I have noticed a marked increase in the amount of traffic in the LA area since I was driving professionally in the '80s.  What used to easily be a 4.5 hour run from Fresno to the Mouse House in Anaheim down I-5 now takes about 5 to 5.25 hours.  Overall average speeds are slower, with more stops due to congestion.  Significant Other's son works in Santa Ana, and when traveling back to Fresburg, goes quite a way out of his way by using the 57 > 210 > 5 route rather than the more direct I-5, simply because of the traffic.

Clarke makes a valid point about the seating position in the Eagle (and other models with the lowered driver's position), but I'm more concerned with the impaired forward visibility, especially in light of all the large SUVs and pickups on today's roads.  The MCIs tend to be better in this regard, since the driver basically sits at passenger floor height, altho the newer E & J models aren't quite as good.

One of the things I talked about last Sunday morning in Arcadia was using the higher seating position in our coaches to our advantage.  By scanning the roadway 10 - 15 seconds AHEAD of you, you have that much more time to react to changing traffic conditions.  Saw a lot of folk nodding their heads in agreement when I mentioned how often and easy it is to spot something and react to it several seconds before the car in front of you does, simply because we can see it earlier.

A common problem that I had to correct when I was training new bus drivers was getting them to STOP looking directly at the car immediately in front of the coach.  Get your eyes up - look 10 -15 seconds ahead, scan your mirrors constantly, know what's going on around you.  Use our height to our advantage.

I'm not talking about following distances here.  I'm talking about visually scanning the roadway 10 - 15 seconds ahead of you constantly.  We all know that it's difficult, if not impossible, to maintain an adequate safety cushion in front with all the traffic.  (BTW, the rule of thumb for following distances is 1 second for each 10 mph of speed, 3 second minimum. . .)  So use our visibility advantage as a good tool to prevent problems.

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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RJ Long
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« Reply #23 on: January 05, 2007, 10:01:45 AM »

Russ:
Very well said.  Most people only look at the car ahead.  Me I like the high profile vehicles, pick ups and vans and my bus because I look, like you said 15 seconds ahead.  When I see brake lights on the cars which are 3 or 4 ahead of me I figure pretty soon the guy in front of me will put on his brakes and by then I already have my foot on my brakes or at least have let of the go peddle.  It is too bad every one doesn't have to go to a defince driving school.  I have been to three, one in the Marine Corps, one for Ma Bell, the old days, and one as a school bus driver.  I make sure I am never in a hurry to get from point A to point B.  Yes I lived in the L.A. area from 1966 to 1976 and am glad I don't live there now.  I also drove simis in the L.A. area in 1980 to 1990.
Drive safe and stay alert.
ED
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Ed Van
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« Reply #24 on: January 05, 2007, 10:11:17 AM »

I saw an amazing Prevost driver once save the lives of several people.  He was driving a 45' casino tour bus, loaded.  My family and I were behind him in our Honda.  He was driving at a good clip, 60 mph on a two lane.  It was Saturday night around 10pm and of course there were drunks on the road.  I saw this drunk fool weaving all over the place up ahead.  I told my wife this could be trouble.  Sure enough, he swerved into the lane of the oncoming behemoth.  We were at a safe enough distance to see things without actually being involved.  The bus driver swerved over onto the shoulder (which was about two foot and a sheer drop) to avoid the drunk fool.  I shouted, "he ain't gonna make it"!  Then, miraculously, he pulled it back on the road, swerved into the oncoming lane a little, but quickly regained control.  

I pulled in behind the drunk bas***d and got his tag and called him in.  

Scared me...If the bus driver had done anything differently, well, let's just say my story would be a little different.  

The reason they are called accidents is that nobody ever plans on them happening.  I got some good advice from the guy who taught me to drive.  He said, "pretend you have a full glass of water sitting on your dash.  Now, whatever you do, don't spill that water, EVER!  If you spill a drop, whether you're parking, pulling out, passing or taking a ramp, then you did something wrong.  DON'T DO IT!"  

Let's be careful out there, and try not to spill your water.
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« Reply #25 on: January 05, 2007, 10:35:32 AM »

One of the things I talked about last Sunday morning in Arcadia was using the higher seating position in our coaches to our advantage.  By scanning the roadway 10 - 15 seconds AHEAD of you, you have that much more time to react to changing traffic conditions.  Saw a lot of folk nodding their heads in agreement when I mentioned how often and easy it is to spot something and react to it several seconds before the car in front of you does, simply because we can see it earlier.

A common problem that I had to correct when I was training new bus drivers was getting them to STOP looking directly at the car immediately in front of the coach.  Get your eyes up - look 10 -15 seconds ahead, scan your mirrors constantly, know what's going on around you.  Use our height to our advantage.

I'm not talking about following distances here.  I'm talking about visually scanning the roadway 10 - 15 seconds ahead of you constantly.  We all know that it's difficult, if not impossible, to maintain an adequate safety cushion in front with all the traffic.  (BTW, the rule of thumb for following distances is 1 second for each 10 mph of speed, 3 second minimum. . .)  So use our visibility advantage as a good tool to prevent problems.

Looking ahead is a good thing, but it has to be balanced with watching the vehicle(s) directly ahead of you too.  I was driving my bus yesterday for a few hours and once or twice realized I was focusing too much on the traffic way out front and not enough on the traffic right in front of me. 

Brian Elfert
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HighTechRedneck
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« Reply #26 on: January 05, 2007, 10:41:31 AM »

I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the L.A. drivers are some of the more considerate drivers in the country (have to be with the number of cars on the road).  Most people from the country just can't take the fast pace, so then another misconception happens saying that the drivers are forceful in L.A.-when in fact, you're just not able to keep up with the pace.  I'd rather put up with the heavy traffic in L.A. because we have numerous alternative routes we can take.  Cities like Seattle-you'll either run out of road or into a water way; Chicago, Boston, New York, most cities on the east coast you'll most likely run into a short bridge.  The city I liked best for getting around was Minneapolis/St. Paul.  Look on a map sometime at how the twin cities are completely cris crossed with freeways. 

If you pull that 3 turn signal trick here in L.A., you'll most likely come across someone that won't move, then you'll be at fault for running into them-sounds smart to me!  Good Luck, TomC

I would agree with your points about L.A. driving skills and freeway layouts.  But I can't agee with the L.A. drivers as a whole being considerate.  I fully agree that as a group, they are probably some of the most skilled drivers on the road.  I have seen remarkable manuevers done successfully many times out there.  For example the multiple lane exit manuever Russ mentioned (actually I got used to doing that one myself out there).  But skilled precision driving is often not the same as defensive driving or being considerate of others.  For example, Chicago cab drivers are extremely skilled at manuevering their cabs in tight traffic, but they are far from considerate.

Put another way, the pilots in the Blue Angels are remarkably skilled, but I wouldn't want them flying 3 feet off the wing tip of a commercial airliner full of passengers.

Just my opinion.
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« Reply #27 on: January 05, 2007, 10:59:36 AM »

If I had to choose between downtown LA and downtown Ft. Lauderdale (between Thanksgiving and Easter), I would choose LA anytime. LA drivers are much more considerate than the blue hairs in Ft. Lauderdale.
Richard
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