Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Truck tire remnants here, there, everywhere

First let me say that one of my best friends is a truck driver and they provide a necessary and tough service that benefits one and all.


I drive frequently between Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon - a more than 400 mile (644 km) round trip.

The route I normally take both ways is Interstate 5.

Which is strewn from end to end to with remnants of truck tires. Dangerous remnants alongside and across the highway. Large and small.

I witnessed the outer tread of an 18-wheeler fly off, slam into the windshield of the car in front of me, fly over its roof, then float over my car, then land directly behind me. The driver in the car behind me narrowly missed running over the potentially lethal debris.

The truck driver responsible for the large, frightening litter continued to drive as if nothing happened. I have no doubt he saw what happened, and wondered if he would have stopped if serious damage had been done to the car initially struck by the tread.

That truck was in a line of three 18-wheelers, which I don't mind saying was damned intimidating to those of us in the left lane who were all passenger vehicles. Especially when they get into passing lanes and can't keep up the posted speeding limit.

We get it. They're big and can go anywhere they wish because they'll crush us if we don't get out of their way.

(Here's a Washington State DOT photo of a slow traffic Sunday evening on an I-5 highway)

Come to think of it, it seems the trucks have grown larger and larger over the past couple of decades, and it doesn't matter what time we passenger car drivers are on the road, they are many and they are on the road.

I know truck licenses cost more to help care for roads, and they have other expenses intended to pay for the damage they create on roads, but-

A young new father in a passenger car was recently killed in Seattle when a tire flew off an 18-wheeler and crashed into the car he was riding.

This frightening scenario was repeated twice more, without its deadly outcome. That means a total of three semi's wheels came off , smashing into cars, in a matter of three weeks just in the Seattle area. I'd be interested to hear if this is as prevalent in other areas as well.

I'm not sure what we can do or say to get these potential killers off the road - truck tire remnants and actual tires flying into other cars - but something has to be done, because the problem is not being solved by whatever policies are in place now - or they aren't reinforced.

I suppose reporting these incidents to our state departments of transportation would feel like we're doing something - even the Federal Department of Transportation.

Several years ago I covered a story about the hazardous materials carried on trucks and trains, and that a (non-terrorist) horrific accident involving lethal loads moving along our highways is not only possible, but probable-it's just a matter of time.

What can be done to address this quite serious issue, given that so many passenger vehicles are on the highway at all hours commuting to work, fender to fender with 18-wheelers?

I don't know, but I'm afraid several more people will have to be killed unnecessarily before someone catches on that urgent action must be taken now to tackle a problem that has existed for decades - like, you know, spending millions of dollars on a study.

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