Trucking Tech

Trucker Says During Inclement Weather, Turn Your Ears On

“Breaker, breaker 1-9, ya got your ears on good buddy?”

“That’s affirmative, I’m 10 in the wind.”

“What’s your 20? Be advised if you’re eastbound on Big Road 90, I’m seein’ a 10-33 approaching yardstick 32. They got a couple 4-wheelers piled up on the outside lane and two 18-wheelers in the comedian.”

Twenty or thirty years ago, when many veteran truck drivers started their careers, that may have been the kind of exchange they would have heard as a truck driver tried to warn fellow truckers about the start of a pile-up. But when truck driver Joe Graham tried to warn fellow drivers going eastbound on 1-90 near Erie, Pennsylvania, about the start of a pile-up during white-out conditions, he didn’t get much of a response. Instead, he got a lot of static.

According to a report of the incident by Fleet Owner, Joe screamed in his CB radio for the next 30 miles as he tried to warn others about what he had seen. Only two truckers responded. When he got home, he learned that the pile-up in mid-January involved 85 vehicles, including a dozen trucks. “More than 18 people, including a 3-month-old, were taken to hospitals with multiple injuries. The wreckage stretched for about a mile-and-a-half, and it took emergency crews—hazmat units, too—almost six hours to clear the highway,” Fleet Owner reported.

Joe was disturbed by the news. Particularly since many, perhaps even all of the 12 truck drivers involved in the accident, didn’t heed his warning. Maybe they didn’t have CBs. Or if they did, maybe they weren’t turned on, or the drivers weren’t listening. While Joe was disturbed by the incident, it was what happened after he posted a video blog talking about the incident and his disappointment – that really got to him.

Although he received many supportive comments, many drivers on other internet sites were unkind, mean-spirited, even mocking. Joe said he knows truck drivers have got to be thick-skinned, but he was unprepared for the callous response. As for the use of CB radio, Joe told Fleet Owner he knows many drivers toss aside the CB for satellite radio or AM talk radio. But he thinks there’s still a place for CB radio during inclement weather.

“When things go wrong and you’re in a dire situation, you’ve got two things in your truck that are your last line of communications [to nearby drivers], your 4-ways and your CB radio,” Joe said. We think that’s a great perspective. And Joe, don’t feel too bad about the callous comments. From the responses to the Fleet Owner story, it looks like some truckers were just as callous back then as some are today. We say just keep doing what you’re doing. And keep truckin’, good buddy.