18 Citations and Still a CDL Driver!

I was watching the local Seattle news yesterday morning and something caught my eye. One of the news anchors was following up on a story about the 30 car pile-up on I90 three days ago. Apparently an 18 wheeler was traveling 70 MPH on snow covered, icy roads and jack-knifed causing the accident. The truck that they showed was a Gordon Trucking heavy-haul tractor with a 53′ trailer. I am not sure if he was the culprit, but it seems as if all of the news stations in the area were showing the same tractor-trailer.

It doesn’t surprise me or anyone else that an accident of that magnitude happened on I90 near Snoqualmie Summit. It seems that when the weather gets worse, the more accidents and incidents of stupidity occur. The driver of the semi who caused the accident was to have been reported to have at least 18 prior citations to his credit! 18 citations and this guy is still on the road? I’d like to know the from which state from which that driver was licensed in and I hope that they make it very difficult for that driver to ever drive again! Once again I can’t be certain who the driver worked for or where he was from, but I can assume that he probably was a local driver who had too much confidence in his winter driving.

I am only thankful that no one was seriously injured or killed in the accident. I was coming home from the New Years holiday from eastern Washington and I clocked a container driver going 73 MPH from my personal vehicle. Is DOT too busy to catch these guys? I think the penalties for speeding in these areas during inclement weather should increase. What do you think?

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8 comments

  1. Actually, the Gordon truck was last on the scene and purposely drove the truck into the snow bank to avoid a direct hit with a liquid nitrogen tanker that jack knifed across the lane.

    As you can imagine, we were pretty disappointed in the local news coverage that continually showed the GTI truck that was not the cause and avoided a much worse catastrophe.

  2. Actually, the Gordon truck was last on the scene and purposely drove the truck into the snow bank to avoid a direct hit with a liquid nitrogen tanker that jack knifed across the lane.

    As you can imagine, we were pretty disappointed in the local news coverage that continually showed the GTI truck that was not the cause and avoided a much worse catastrophe.

  3. Thank you Mr. Gordon for clarifying the circumstances of the accident. It is unfortunate that our news stations choose to show one of your trucks as part of their story.

    Gordon Trucking is a well respected, safety oriented company that is based in the Seattle area. They were my second choice when I started my trucking career nine years ago. I only wish I choose to work with them at the time.

  4. Thank you Mr. Gordon for clarifying the circumstances of the accident. It is unfortunate that our news stations choose to show one of your trucks as part of their story.

    Gordon Trucking is a well respected, safety oriented company that is based in the Seattle area. They were my second choice when I started my trucking career nine years ago. I only wish I choose to work with them at the time.

  5. I’m surprised anyone would shocked about this story.
    It happens every day somewhere in the country.
    Read the story of Janelle Durk. She was killed in IL after being hit from behind by a truck driver over his hours while sitting in a backup caused by the crash of another truck driver who was over hours, on drugs and on parole for killing another person while driving drunk. His license was revoked for life when he was sent to prison but when he got paroled the state of IN gave him a CDL. I found this and many stories like it at
    http://www.ragbagtruckers.com/

  6. I’m surprised anyone would shocked about this story.
    It happens every day somewhere in the country.
    Read the story of Janelle Durk. She was killed in IL after being hit from behind by a truck driver over his hours while sitting in a backup caused by the crash of another truck driver who was over hours, on drugs and on parole for killing another person while driving drunk. His license was revoked for life when he was sent to prison but when he got paroled the state of IN gave him a CDL. I found this and many stories like it at
    http://www.ragbagtruckers.com/

  7. Just the other day I saw some crazy car driver try to exit from the 3rd lane in Chicago. They almost made it! They missed my front-end by 5 feet then wrapped around the front of a station-wagon in the 1st lane. Then they both went flying up the hillside! Or Wednesday, when some idiot in his beamer passed me at close to 100 MPH on the left shoulder of I-80 in Davenport. What happens if anything goes wrong? Or at the scene of that motorhome fire, when the cops were trying to get everyone into the left lane to give the firemen room: Some idiot from Calli passed with all 4 tires in the grass, then stopped to scream at me and give me the finger. I guess that he didn’t see the cop standing less then 50 ft away. I’ll bet that he is still mad at truckers. The cop said “PULL IT OVER”! God only knows what happened after that. Or to the idiot driving the yellow Audi who tried to pass me at a high rate of speed in the parking lane between parked cars. (He didn’t make it). You’ve got to learn to expect that kind of thing in Illinois. Do you know what the cop said after the guy tried to pass me on the sidewalk while I was backing into the dock and I backed into him? “What were you doing driving on the sidewalk?” the cop asked. What happened to the road-rager who ended up in the ditch in Iowa? Or in Missouri? They went to Jail, they did not pass go or get the money. I could go on and on. In fact, I’ve kept a log of type of vehicle, color, plate, time & date of thousands of egregious violations of driving laws. How about 100+ in heavy traffic in a 35 MPH Zone? Or passing at over 100 MPH coming into a lane-closure and knocking over construction barrels, even the electric arrow, just to gain a whole hundred feet? Ask that guy from WV if it was worth it when he tried to play “Beat the Truck” and squeeze between the nose of one and the back bumper of the other, ’cause they were in his way. (There wasn’t enough room). You car drivers talk all you want to about bad truckers. The truth is that even rookie truckers are so much better drivers then so many of you. So many car drivers think that getting past the semi is a matter of life or death. And so often it is.

    Just remember: A loaded semi takes 3 to 4 times as long to stop as your car does. That means from 70 MPH including reaction time you can stop your car in under 400 ft. How many feet does it take to stop the loaded semi? 1,500+ ft. Why would you want to be right in front of a loaded semi? You can’t see? Just remember: I can’t stop.

    Don’t tell me that you never knew it. This fact was mentioned in the 1972 Michigan driver’s manual. (Back then it was 2 & 1/2 times as long, though that figure was based on a 1958 study, when trucks weighed 12,000 lbs less then they do today, and the average car was 1,000 lbs heavier then today AND had 4-wheel drum brakes instead of vented disc brakes). What kind of brakes do trucks have? Drum Brakes, which fade during a high-speed stop. My advice: Don’t pull-in any closer then a couple of hundred feet in front of a truck, just to be safe. Don’t ride right next to a truck either, just in case the trucker needs to take evasive action or because those 12-ply recaps have 110 PSI of air pressure in them. Just the concussion of a blow-out is enough to blow-out your car windows if you are right next to a loaded truck when a blowout occurs. Not to mention the 12-ply shrapnel. Pull out to pass at least 200 ft back too, just so the trucker can see you soon enough to take other action, if necessary.

    Its easy to drive in a safe manner around semis. Remember, the truck driver has a whole lot more going on then you do. Why do they have control towers at airports? So that people like you in little Cessnas don’t try to cut-off 727s. Its the same thing with trucks. I drive a vehicle that is the same size and weight as a DC-9 jetliner down the highway at up to 75 MPH around people who think that I’m an a–hole or think that I’m in their way and are willing to die for their beliefs. Maybe they ought to get rid of railroad crossing signals and put big plow blades on the front of trains and see how many stupid drivers that they can put out of their misery. Then there will be less for me to contend with.

    I work for a living. I try to get the job that my boss gave me done as quickly as possible, so that he will give me more work. This is how I pay my mortgage and my credit cards. How would you like to be discriminated against just because of your line of work? Or called a bunch of names like dumb or stupid?. I’ve got almost 30 years of driving semis around you clowns. You want to govern trucks? I want to govern cars too. How about 72 MPH for trucks and 75 MPH for cars? I know: No more really reckless high-speed driving on the part of car drivers just would take the fun out of driving a car. Or, nobody will want to buy any new cars. Is highway safety for all highway users worth it?

    Let me ask you a question and see if you can get the answer right: It’s dark out and there is no moonlight. I’m driving at 70 MPH 200 ft behind you, just exactly where you think that I ought to drive. When suddenly, without warning, several deer jump out 300 ft in front of you. 99% says that you slam on the brakes as hard as you can. Now my question is: Do you hit the deer first or do I run right over your car and crush it as flat as an empty beer can in the parking lot first? ?????

    The answer is: Even with brand new brakes, somewhere between 25 and 50 ft from the deer, I’m going to hit you in the rear going 35 to 40 MPH faster then you are, or tip right over on top of you trying to swerve to miss you. Only one kind of 4-wheeler made can stand-up to getting tagged at 35 MPH and it weighs 12,000 lbs.

  8. What, no comments? Probably because you know that what I’ve said is the truth. You’ve all probably done something angry, aggressive, or stupid while driving around a truck. After all, extensive research shows that a car driver’s actions were to blame in 72.4% of all heavy truck crashes in a 25-year period. This was not some small representative study of 1,000 accidents, it was a study of EVERY heavy truck accident from 1971 to 1996 done by the Federal Governtment and the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. And that in 2/3rds of the remaining accidents there was joint blame between car drivers and the truck drivers. Only 10% of every truck wreck in a 25-year period was exclusively a trucker’s fault. This study spanned the high-speed years before the Arab Oil Embargo, the 55 MPH non-split speed years, and the 7 years since when most States allowed both trucks and cars at 65 MPH. (Since the study the speed limit in 60% of the Continental US has been 70 MPH or faster for trucks, and in 75% the speed limit has been 70 MPH or faster for cars. And we have still seen a moderate reduction in overall accidents and fatalities, and in truck accident fatalities, and a substantial reduction in the key fatality rate per 100 million-miles that has been used to judge the trucking industry by since the days of the ICC). We are a lot safer then we were when the speed limit was 55 MPH for all vehicles all over the country.

    Do any of you remember the old I-90 coming down the east side of Snowqualmie Pass? It was a narrow shelf road with both directions (2-lanes each way) clinging to a narrow shelf and only occasionally was it blocked by avalanches. I remember when several of us running together commented upon seeing the steep, curving bridges being constructed. “It’s an accident waiting to happen” we all agreed. “Wait until they get icy then all hell will break loose”. It’s true: You can’t build bridges like those without expecting a certain number of accidents to occur. Was taking the avalanche factor out of the equation worth the number of accidents, injuries, and fatalities that have occured since because of questionable roadway design? We all knew there would be problems back in 1980. And now it’s all the trucker’s fault?

    How about separate roadways for trucks and cars? (Too expensive). How about ending split speed limits? Take an increase in certain types of accidents in an attempt to reduce other types plus allow for more economic growth? I can’t believe how many people are addicted to this kind of discrimination and the attendant economic restraint. Don’t like trucks in your neighborhoods? How about building giant superstores at all off-ramps and just having everyone drive there to buy everything that you need to buy? No neighborhood stores means no neighborhood trucks. Or neighborhood jobs, for that matter.

    What can we do to educate the driving public about their responsibility when driving around large trucks? How about TV commercials where some faceless idiot gets creamed after they do something aggressive or inept around a truck? See a guy in his hot car, in a big hurry, passing the truck over a double-yellow line then cutting-in way to close, just as the light changes. “Damn trucks”, he yells, as he slams on his brakes. We see a shot, out of his rearview mirror, of the truck’s front-end growing rapidly larger, then a shot of just his wide-eyed look in the rearview mirror, then BAM, followed by a scene with the cops interviewing a witness, surrounded by accident debris, with the ambulance crew just pulling the sheet up over the faceless victim’s face. Then the narrator says: “Trucks take longer to stop then your car does”, etc, etc. We could make a whole series of these commercials. The point would be to educate the driving public about their responsibilities while driving around trucks.

    The greatest single need to reduce heavy truck accidents is a change in how many of us drive in our cars. I’ve driven in excess of 3 million miles in a semi and my worst accident was knocking the mirror off of a car that stopped at a green light, then suddenly accelerated when I was passing on their right. My left rear corner and their passenger-side mirror hit, so hard that their side window was broken. I also have more then a million miles driven in a car. I’ve been rear-ended 8 times in a car and 3 times in a semi. Failure to pay attention to driving is probably the number one cause of serious accidents. Speed can make the consequences of failing to pay attention worse. I know, we’ve all done it: Looked-up from searching for the cellphone, or digging in or briefcase or purse, or yelling at the kids, or changing a CD, and had to take sudden evasive action to avoid a catastrophic accident. Every 100 times that this scenario plays itself out there is a bad wreck. It happens to all of us, both in our cars and in our trucks. Distractions while driving, intoxicated driving, and aggressive driving are the three top causes of accidents. Excessive speed and fatigue are both lower on the list.

    If we drive in a contentious, responsible manner around trucks we can easily reduce the truck accident rate. If we make traffic safety a priority in construction and reconstruction of our roads we can make possible reductions in accidents. If we pay attention to our driving at all times we can nearly eliminate one of the top causes of catastrophic crashes. Next time that you can’t find your cell when it’s ringing: A. Call them back, or B. Pull over. It’s a lot safer then taking your eyes off the road. Next time a truck is trying to back into a street dock, just stop well clear and wait. It will probably be less stressful on the driver and will probably cost less time. Remember, it’s a lot harder driving a large truck in often unfamiliar areas when car drivers act like they are so angry or in so much of a hurry. Think of the last time that you went to the mall and you couldn’t find a parking spot: That is what tired truckers have to put up with every night.

    We can make some simple and inexpensive changes and it will improve safety for all of us. Or we can take drastic, draconian action which will cost us plenty and which is bound to cause other problems. Slow down a little, keep your attention on your driving, give the trucker a break, go the extra mile on occasion. It’s so easy. We’re all people, just like you, trying to pay our bills and feed our families. We can get a lot more done together.
    Mark R.

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