The CDC.

I mean CDC as in Crappy Driver Commonalities.

You didn’t think I was going to write anything about that other CDC did you? I think we’ve heard quite enough from those folks lately. No, this article is going to be about patterns I’ve witnessed among supposed professional drivers that I end up not thinking very highly of.

Crappy drivers, and the things they have in common.

Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.”
Mark Twain


This just means that it’s very easy to look at what everyone else is doing wrong, while never looking at yourself and what you could be doing better. The pro Dash Cam crowd was like this in the early days. They were going to document everything everyone was doing wrong while completely ignoring the little speed indicator at the bottom that read 78 while they passed a 65 sign. Out of fairness and to prove I am not claiming perfection I will list one of my bad habits at the end of this article.

Excessive cell phone usage.

Of course, this is not new. It’s one of the Crappy Driver Commonalities that has some of the greatest staying power of any bad habit anyone has ever seen. Some can text and drive better than others. Some folks sail happily down the road either voice to texting, or actual texting while others end up leaving wild-looking ruts into ditches. Whether or not you are good at driving and talking, or driving and texting you should probably still limit your time on the phone. You’re not concentrating on what you’re doing. Multi-tasking is actually a myth. Those wild plow marks into the ditch may require an investigation. Your cell phone records may be subpoenaed. Chances are you don’t have a whole team of staffers to delete your 33,000 emails and smash your electronic devices to scrap for you.


Your life as you know it will be changed forever. Fact.

Oh, and that trooper that was sitting there watching you while you sailed past him staring at your phone? He might just nab you for the low low price of $2,750.00. And he might just send your boss a bill for a mere $11,000.00. And if you are your own boss, you may just win the grand prize of both of those awards.

Here is the FMCSA Guidance on it.

Holding the phone horizontally and yelling into it while on speakerphone, either outside your cab when parked or anywhere else should be avoided. In fact, stop using speakerphone on your cell phone. It sounds horrible on both ends, and nobody in line at the truck stop wants to hear your conversation or music, and it’s also some kind of instinct to speak 14 decibels louder when you use it. Anyone who’s ever been on speakerphone knows this. If you’re going to park next to another truck and talk loudly on the phone, I’d suggest an alternate location. Like a nice, open, grassy pasture where you can watch the approaching lightning. Yes, it’s possible to be a crappy driver while not even driving. Enjoy your lightning display.

Limit your cell phone usage entirely. Just cut back a little bit. What you had for supper is never going to be that interesting to anyone.

The solitude of this job is a benefit few other fields of labor get to enjoy.

Can you imagine working in an office?

Placing your GPS right in your own field of view.

Or video calling while driving with the phone in a holder right in the middle of the windshield. During a video call, you are going to take your eyes off the road and look at the camera.

Would you believe me if I told you that we didn’t always have GPS to guide us from coast to coast? It’s true, I swear. You had to use an atlas and plan out your trip. Not a “map book” but an “atlas”. Maybe you memorized large parts of it, and wrote others down. Maybe you’re strange like me and had weird hobbies as a kid that included staring at an atlas all day thinking of places you’d rather be and you had most of the country’s highways memorized before you ever turned your first key. Probably not. I was a weird kid. In fact, I grew up so weird that I still believe a sense of geography is important to driving a truck! For some reason there seem to be a dwindling number of both drivers and office personnel that have this knowledge. Knowing which direction to head to get to the next principal city is important. I think that’s a problem that’s going to get pretty bad in the future. Both drivers and dispatchers not knowing how to get from place to place seem to me like failing at step one. Every step after that is going to bring even more difficulty. Don’t get me started on society’s trend toward the lowering of standards and acceptance of crappy excuses.

Learn where things are. It’s important.

A GPS is simply a tool to help you. At no time should you be so dependent upon it that you place it right in the middle of the windshield, in your own field of view. Also, blocking your own field of view can be a pretty hefty fine.

You also run the risk of being cross-eyed. How these people don’t end up cross-eyed I’ll never know. Place your windshield attachments outside your field of view.

cross eyed guy.jpeg

Placing your foot on the dash while driving.

Sitting immobile for long periods of time in a confined space can have serious health risks. Perhaps you’re concerned about your blood circulation and that’s why you do it. I doubt that. Perhaps you have tremendous flatulence and need it vented from the cab as soon as possible. This is a more likely scenario. Or maybe you want the greatest amount of the vapors circulated in the cab with the minimal in-seat loss for your poor co-driver to experience. Maybe you two have a coast-to-coast contest going. The possibilities are almost endless and all gross.

Seeing people’s feet on display is also gross.

Even if you’re driving a new autoshift truck, you should have both feet on the floor in case of an immediate emergency. And emergencies happen all the time. As drivers, we know this.

For circulation, some drivers will tell you to stop the truck and get out and take a walk. Some will swear they do it all the time. Most of them are full of crap. People who make a decent living driving a truck full time do not stop every hour on the hour for ten minutes or so. It just doesn’t happen. Oh sure, every now and then you’ll see a guy walking around a rest area because his doctor just told him to or he will die, or lots of times in January right after the new year you’ll see the “I’m finally going to lose weight” crowd strolling around truck stops marveling at all the trash strewn about but lasts about a month and you don’t see that anymore. Most drivers want to get through their day as quickly as possible so they can watch dancing girls and trucker drama on Tik Tok.

There are muscle tensing exercises you can do for circulation without placing your feet in strange places about the cab while the truck is moving. It’s a science called “isometrics”. Throw that in a search engine and keep your feet on the floor.

Swerving into my lane as you pass me.

This CDC happens almost exclusively with wide bodied trucks such as Cascasdias and Volvos. Often these folks and the foot-on-dash-drives-like-an-ass crowd happens with a certain demographic.

Without delving into very toxic, stereotypical negative language let’s just say, “Welcome to the United States. Please be aware of the lines on the interstate and how wide your truck is, and keep it in your lane until you’re fully past me. I wish whomever sold you your CDL would have told you this.” I said that last part because at least here in the Midwest you can almost feel another massive CDL scandal blowing in on the breeze. Like how a thunderstorm approaches on a hot summer day.

Chances are I’m hugging the fog line on the right anyway. It’s a habit I developed years ago to give passing traffic as much room as possible while still staying in the driving lane. There’s no reason to straddle “the zipper” other than your aggressiveness, which does not impress me.

In fact, when I see you approaching, and you’re already encroaching on the zipper just know that I’m not moving over for you anymore. Your obnoxiousness has already exceeded the limits of my courtesy. I shouldn’t have to be courteous to obnoxiousness. Maybe in countries where there is little regard for life, where traffic rules are arbitrary, and chaos rules the day this is a normal practice, but I’m simply not moving over for you anymore. A two-lane interstate has roughly 24 feet (that’s about 7.5 meters where you’re from) of driving space which is more than enough for two semi trucks side by side.

Stay in your own lane, or park it at home and walk away.

Stopping on the shoulder just – wherever.

I’ve seen this just before and just after rest areas. I’ve seen it just before exits for truck stops. I’ve seen it in construction zones where I was amazed it didn’t cause a six o’clock news headline. It’s a fairly recent CDC. I don’t know the wisdom behind it, or how it came about. What I do know is that in most of the cases there’s usually to be a better place to stop a truck for a few minutes than the shoulder of a fast moving interstate.

Maybe it needs to be explained as to why this is a bad idea. I’ll try.

First, the shoulder of the road is not a clean place. Let’s say a truck hauling lots of junk crashed into a really bad yard sale full of more junk and sharp items. And one shoe. Always only one. Where the other shoe is nobody ever knows. That’s the shoulder of an interstate. The chances of having a tire go flat, or a piece of junk kick up and maybe tear a brake line is worth thinking about.

Second, you’re creating a significant hazard by slowing down and reentering traffic right there on the shoulder. If you’ve ever been pulled over by law enforcement you might have noticed that after they’re done giving you your citation they’ll sit behind you with all those lights still flashing until you start moving, and while they’re finishing up paperwork. Rarely will law enforcement leave someone on the side of the road alone. That’s because it’s not safe to be there.

Don’t just pull over anywhere. Like I said in a CDC previous to this one, learn where things are. This includes an idea of stopping locations.

That GPS you have in the middle of your windshield can help you.

One more habit all CDC drivers seem to have.

Sometimes you can make eye contact with another driver through mirrors, and when trucks pass each other. Well, maybe that’s a bit much because if you’re one ahead of the other you’re too damn close, but if you’re passing side by side, you can certainly tell if this person uses their mirrors. Slight head movements are easily visible from considerable distances.

They all have absolute tunnel vision. When you pass them or they pass you their eyes are locked in an absolute forward position. They will not make eye contact with you, not even to two-finger wave, nod or turn their head.

It’s almost as if they know they’re doing something wrong.

I can’t be the only one that gets that impression.

Finally…​

Here’s my bad habit. I don’t know when I started doing it or why but it’s something I need to work on, and can’t seem to shake. I really do need to work on it, and probably lots more.

I cancel my turn signals way too early before I’ve completed a turn or a lane change. I catch myself doing it all the time. It seems minor, but in a courtroom could actually be a problem. And unfortunately, ending up in a courtroom is how we have to think every scenario will end these days.

Thanks for reading.
 
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Duck

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