Managing Space = Managing Time

Montreal A40 crash

Trucker attempts to save driver before Highway 40 truck explosion.

Chain Collision

On Aug 10, 2016, Carol Bujold was in a chain collision involving several trucks on an elevated portion of Highway A-40 in Montreal. He immediately went to check on the tanker driver who stuck his truck from behind.

Bujold noticed two things: the driver was trapped inside and the truck was on fire. He got a crowbar from his truck and attempted to pull open the door, cutting his hand.

In a matter of seconds the truck was engulfed and there was nothing more Bujold could do. The tanker driver perished in the inferno. The collision is under investigation, but the incident began with a stopped vehicle in the lane.

The Key to Defensive Driving

The key to defensive driving is in managing time and space. More space gives you more time and more time gives you more space and more options. This is a fundamental rule of safe driving, no matter your age or level of experience.

Basic driving practices are such as those of the Smith System:

  • Aim High In Steering ® — Look further ahead than other drivers
  • Get The Big Picture ® — See more around you than other drivers
  • Keep Your Eyes Moving ® — Be more aware than other drivers
  • Leave Yourself An Out ® — Position better in traffic than other drivers
  • Make Sure They See You ® — Make yourself more visible than other drivers

Here is a video of the aftermath of the Montreal Highway A-40 crash that shows how quickly the vehicle was engulfed.

GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING!

A Special Note to New Truck Drivers and Hauling Hazmat

When training new truck drivers, I am always asked if they need their hazmat endorsement?

My answer has always been the same: Get three to five years experience before hauling hazmat.

Why do I say that? For several reasons.

Note in the video above, only one person made an attempt to help the trapped driver. What if several people had fire extinguishers and attempted to aid the driver? Would it have made a difference? Would there have been a few extra seconds to help the driver?

The facts are these: In the event of a hazmat collision, it is likely that no one is obligated to help a truck driver in harm’s way. No one is going to rush in and see if they can help. It doesn’t work that way. It’s not that they don’t care . . . but there are special rules in place at the scene of a hazmat crash.

Secondly, fire and smoke are a big red flag to first responders, hazmat or no hazmat. Years ago I taught driver’s ed. We had a video that talked about “The Rule of Thumb,” when smoke or fire are present at an accident scene. The Rule of Thumb tells first responders (and everyone else) to stay back far enough to literally cover the scene of the accident with your thumb, if you see smoke or fire coming from a vehicle.

So there you have it. There is a reason hazmat is called dangerous goods. Get some experience, a lot of experience, if you decide to haul it, in my opinion.

Thanks for reading this.

 

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