Hail the truck driver
“How do you do, the things that you do? No one I know could ever keep up with you …” pop duo Roxette sang back in the 1990s. Those lyrics could very well have been written for long-haul truckers …
I went on a little road trip recently – Johannesburg to Cape Town with a stop-over in Hanover to be precise. I just figured that after eight hours of driving it would be appropriate to stop and have a bit of a nap and continue the trip after breakfast the next morning, which is exactly what transpired.
The thing is I was moving house, province and the family. The only trick was to coordinate the removal truck’s arrival in Cape Town with ours. After all, timing is everything in life. After chatting to Andre the driver, we kind of settled on a time of arrival in Cape Town which would suit us both. What we didn’t take into account was the weather.
We headed south, my wife driving the bakkie with the parrots in the back under the canopy, while I had the dog and a very grumpy cat for company in the car. About 100 km from Johannesburg the wind started howling and just got worse the further we drove. So much so, that our average speed dropped to about 95 km/h. That was also about the same speed as most of the trucks we encountered – and there were plenty, mind.
First off what struck me was the number of trucks on the road and the fact that most of them are interlinks. At least half of them had a sign on the back saying “yellow line driving not permitted”. They meant it too, which of course resulted in a number of suicidal idiots in cars chancing their arms at least when overtaking. Not that the road was that busy – but a barrier line is there for a reason. A few more overtaking lanes between Laingsberg and Paarl would be useful though …
Secondly, truckers have really good road manners. When they can move over, they do. A wave or a quick double click of the hazards always gets a flash-back. Thank you – it’s a pleasure sharing the road with you. The same cannot be said for most car drivers though. Pity really.
On the second day of the trip it rained. The wind still blew – all the time. It made very little difference to our average speeds so we stuck to truck speed again. I understand why single vehicle crashes happen. Most of the time we assume the driver fell asleep. In these conditions it is quite easy for a rig to get, quite literally, blown off the road – as crazy as that sounds. We actually took to driving in the emergency lane when approaching trucks just to try and minimise the wind blast when they went past. It didn’t really help much though. I am just glad I wasn’t in the Beetle.
Andre beat us to Cape Town by six hours. His nap was only for an hour or two. He did say that there was an issue with his diesel card, otherwise he would have got in another hour of kip … Our load was safely delivered and while we could start sorting out what went where, he was on his way back to Johannesburg via the Eastern Cape. For him it was just another day, different route.
It took me two days to recover from my trip and I had the luxury of a warm bed after a decent plate of grub halfway. I still don’t know how truckers do it.
SKID MARKS is a regular column in which Gary Ronald presents his personal and sometimes jaundiced view on transport, safety and mobility. Ronald has a wealth of experience in these fields and has presented numerous papers both locally and internationally. FOCUS appreciates his witty, topical and sometimes irreverent stance on the industry. If you’d like to respond to whatever punches he throws, visit www.focusontransport.co.za