Impure Thoughts # 14: The Flatbedder Vibe.

Impure Thoughts # 14: The Flatbedder Vibe.

I call it the “Flatbedder Vibe”, but other lesser types of drivers may possess it too.

Part of what makes flatbedders and specialized haulers better drivers than everyone else is not only;

a) A body fat count of less than one percent, universally.

b) Being so handsome we stop conversations when entering a crowded room.

c) Being shaped like a wedge from the belt up (for males).

d) Looking like Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man (for females - she was fully clothed, spirited and totally HOT the whole time…so I got a thing for old chicks…shaddap…)

No…those are just natural characteristics. The things that makes us open deck drivers so awesome is the fact that we’re simply more in touch with the state of our vehicles than anyone else on the road, except maybe motorcyclists.

We have to be! We really do. We’re in charge of loading, unloading, securing, tarping (God forbid) and maintaining it all throughout the trip from loading until delivery! Just by walking around the truck and throwing straps and rolling out tarps, we’re inadvertently doing walk around inspections the whole time.

Many times, we don’t just hit the pin on a dropped trailer, check lights, bump tires and take off with the seal intact, never really knowing what’s really going on back there. If it was a live load, an open deck driver is well in touch with what’s going on in his mirrors, which he or she is watching almost as much as looking forward and maybe even more so.

So that brings us to today and my latest “Flatbedder Vibe” as I like to call it.

I was happily bopping down the highway and periodically checking mirrors, gauges, load, and sound. I actually pause or turn down whatever I’m listening to periodically and just…listen. Sometimes that part lasts for hours. Just...listening. But mainly, I was listening to the unabridged version of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series, and was totally lost in Wizard and Glass and Roland’s past…or maybe it was the future...or whatever…I was really lost so I got annoyed so I turned it down, and checked my mirrors, didn’t see anything suspicious.

Still, I got that uneasy feeling. That “Flatbedder Vibe”. After several glances at my load in motion, the feeling didn’t pass, so I grabbed the next rest area to check my straps, and look at the board I thought was out of place. It was not out of place. But, upon walking around and checking straps for the umpteenth time this trip (some loads really never settle down) I decided to whack my tires with my winch bar.

Sure enough, inside tire, right front axle of my step deck was low. I have no clue why, as I was running on clean dry pavement all day. It had maybe ten pounds of air in it. I left the rest area and ran about 55mph to the next truck stop two miles away (which I would NOT have been able to do with those stupid single tires, by the way) and put air in the tire…

Long story short, I prevented a blow out and maybe even saved the life of the idiot credit card biker behind me for 50 miles. I got to a tire shop and swapped out my spare for the cripple. Turns out the valve core just went bad. Disaster averted, both tires saved. Fifty bucks. Had I been in my own truck I’d have changed out the tire myself. This truck has no impact wrench or jack.

Keep in mind I didn’t always have the Flatbedder Vibe. It’s a learned skill like any other. Or maybe just experience! It really did start when I started open deck trailers and doing all those inadvertent walk-around inspections. The point here is; be in touch with your load, truck, tires, trailer, lights (crap that reminds me…marker light…), in short LOOK AROUND YOU.

DON’T be one of these drivers I see with headphones on. There’s no way they can “use the five senses (as some safety videos call it I’ll keep calling it my Flatbedder Vibe)…if you have headphones on. Further, if I were a cop, I’d probably ticket you for inattentive driving.

Be in touch with your vehicle. I don’t care if it’s a dry van full of diapers or a “mobile Chernobyl”.

Always develop, and obey your “Flatbedder Vibe”!

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Well written article about this. I have never heard it explained by anyone before, or labeled, but it is something I have been aware of for years. It can't be learned from a book, it can't be faked, it is earned after years of experience only, and is most pronounced in drivers that are also safe drivers in general, and would have been awesome drivers of any lessor equipment as well. This is why I think that pretty much any driver that is obviously good, safe, and proud of his skills as a driver of any other equipment is also capable of doing the same at the hard stuff if they ever decided to give it a real shot.
Flatbedders - almost as good as tanker yankers
Ohhh I suppose we can let tanker guys in the club too, climbin all over those racks and draggin hoses around, and actually slowing down for rams speeds and stuff.

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