I thought winter was over. Yes, I know it’s still February, but after a few days of good roads, I was hopeful. Sadly, this past Tuesday night I learned winter was not quite finished yet.
As a truck driver for the last twenty-some years, I’ve come to despise winter. Driving on slick roads every day can get old. Worse yet, it’s making me old, I think. What hair I have left is turning gray, and whether it’s accurate or not, I’m blaming the winter driving.
But back to my story. I was almost done with my run, only about 50 miles to go, when the rain started. The temperature was 27 degrees. I kept up my speed for a few miles but when the sides of the road began sparkling, I decided to back it down a little.
I was catching up to another truck and debating on whether or not to pass. Knowing there was a bridge coming up—a bridge that is notoriously slick, and built on a curve—I slowed down more and stayed behind the guy. We were traveling about 30 mph and all was well.
But the car that had been rapidly gaining on us didn’t slow down. The driver passed us both and pulled back into the right lane. Then about a half mile ahead, just before he crossed the bridge I saw the brake lights come on. And that’s when all the fun began.
As the car did a few 360’s in the middle of the freeway, the other truck and I slowed down as much as we could (without using the brakes). The car came to a stop right on the dotted line but left us enough room to squeeze by—barely. We were now moving about 5 mph and that would prove to be too fast.
I saw the truck in front of me start sliding the moment he hit the bridge. His trailer turned sideways and he drifted to the left side of the bridge. At this point, I still had a little control and I moved al the way to the right, trying to avoid him. But then I crossed onto the bridge and at 5 mph started a slow slide to the left with my trailer fishtailing behind me. And there wasn’t a thing I could do.
Just to give you a feel for the situation, I’m in a 100,000 lb rig, on a bridge, sliding to the edge, with no control. I couldn’t steer or accelerate, and I knew better than to hit the brakes. And at this time of year, I was pretty sure the water below was COLD.
It’s funny how things slow down at times like this. Of course, at 5 mph, I was barely moving anyway but still... As everything slowed down, I had time to consider my options, which came down to either: jump out or keep going and hope for the best. One thing I knew, I most certainly didn’t want to stop. I’d be a sitting duck when more traffic showed up, which could be at any moment. And since I didn’t really want to jump out, I kept my foot on the throttle. But with no traction, that may have been pointless.
I saw the truck in front of me slam into the side of the bridge and then start sliding the other way. Figuring that was as good a plan as any, I turned my wheel all the way to the right, hoping the tire stuck out past the fender. (No need to go smashing up the truck unnecessarily). I wasn’t sure but it seemed to work and bouncing off the guardrail, I joined the tuck ahead of me in sliding to the right.
We proceeded all the way across the bridge like that, bouncing our way to the other side. Thankfully, no other traffic came by. Once off the bridge, we could get a little traction. By little, I mean we got up to about 10 mph, then slowly climbed to 15 mph. We couldn’t go any faster. And that was fine with me. I was no longer in that much of a hurry. Apparently, neither was the other driver.
Two hours later, I finished my run without any further incidents. Once the truck was parked, I checked for damage and there was none! Not even any marks on the tires!
So, all in all, a good night!
Later, I started thinking how the car that wrecked probably saved me. If I’d hit that bridge at 30 mph, I doubt the flimsy guardrail would have been much of a hindrance. Most likely, the truck would have plowed right through it on its way to the river below.
I was already wishing winter was over, and now, more so. But, this week’s forecast calls for... snow. And more freezing rain. Yay! ~
Bruce A. Borders is the author of more than a dozen books, including: Inside Room 913, Over My Dead Body, The Journey, Miscarriage Of Justice, The Lana Denae Mysteries, and The Wynn Garrett Series. Available in ebook at www.amazon.com/Bruce-A.-Borders/e/B006SOLWQS and paperback on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million. Bruce A. Borders is a proud member of Rave Reviews Book Club.