Truck Car Accident My introduction to the truckers world

No matter how long you've been driving, you never know it all

The writer around about the time he drove trucks for a living Oct 1973 to March 1974
The writer around about the time he drove trucks for a living Oct 1973 to March 1974

Truck car accident - It pays not to be over confident

When I came into that truck yard I’d already been driving for a long time. My car licence dates back to 1955. I’d driven in Australia, New Guinea, and New Zealand. Moreover, I’d driven motor cycles, sedans and four-wheel drives. I fancied myself as a capable driver. Perhaps I was. But in 1972 when I took on a job driving heavy vehicles I realized I still had a lot to learn.

Can you crash-stop? I didn't really know what this other driver was asking

“Can you crash-stop through the gears to a full stop?”

“I think so.”

We don't want a truck crash, cobber. “I’m talking about not using the brakes at all- can you do it?”

“Reckon I can.”

“Thinking so’s not good enough. You’ll need to do it at the driving test.”

“Can you do a three-point turn in a two-lane street in one of these Bedfords?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, I’ll show you.”

“What about a reverse turn around a corner? It’s a handy truck manoeuvre.”

So began my re-education on the difference between driving a car and a heavy vehicle. I learned and became conscious of turning circles, rear-overhang, vehicle length, breadth, height. I learned about keeping the engine revs up so that the air-compressor would always provide plenty of air-pressure to the brakes. I learned about split-diffs and “angel gear.”

Yer, goin' well, mate. Picking it up quicker than I thought you would

“You’re going well, Tom. Picking it up quicker than I thought. We want you out on the road next week. You’ve been in the yard three days now.

“Gawd! Don’t do that! Never use the handbrake when she’s moving. You’ll snap the drive shaft. Okay, let’s try it once more. It’s mirror driving, Tom. Watch the mirrors. It’s important you check both sides all the time.  Then-

“You’re looking good, mate. I’ve booked with the D.M.R. for Friday. That’s when you’ll be going for your Class Three. Boss’ll probably put you in as a spare driver. Yeah…But they might give you your own run right away.”

 

I felt confident...maybe too confident

Friday arrived. How would I go? I felt confident. I’d passed all the practical tests as put to me by my teacher off-sider. Would I sufficiently impress the driving inspector at the Department of Motor Transport at Parramatta.

I was turning left into George Street out of Phillip when it happened.

Crash! Bump, bump!

“Whoa! Whoa!” The yells came from my off-sider. I “whoa-d. You deaf!"

It was bad. I knew it would be. It was difficult to understand what had happened immediately. Sure, the traffic was heavy, with cars parked on both sides of the narrow street. But I had come sufficiently wide on the corner. I was sure of it. The mirrors on both sides had shown me as clear. Of course, I’d had to cut back inwards just a little to avoid a car coming towards me on the opposite side of the road.

Truck car accident ? It wasn't a hard knock; hardly touched 'em

Another half-an-inch and the rear arch of my freezer cab would have cleared the new Ford Falcon on the corner. And if I hadn’t hit the Falcon, it would not have been pushed forward onto the shiny, new Mercedes Benz parked just in front of it.

I climbed from the cab. A crowd was gathering to goggle at the damage. The rear right-hand side of the Falcon was pulled out of alignment. A back door was squashed and sprung on its hinges. The front of the Ford was pushed into the crumple zone of the Mercedes. And the Merc had crumpled. It looked like a minor explosion had taken place around its boot area.

A crowd gathered to goggle at the damage

Another half-an-inch and the rear arch of my freezer cab would have cleared the new Ford Falcon on the corner. And if I hadn’t hit the Falcon, it would not have been pushed forward onto the shiny, new Mercedes Benz parked just in front of it.

I climbed from the cab. A crowd was gathering to goggle at the damage. The rear right-hand side of the Falcon was pulled out of alignment. A back door was squashed and sprung on its hinges. The front of the Ford was pushed into the crumple zone of the Mercedes. And the Merc had crumpled. It looked like a minor explosion had taken place around its boot area.

Truck crash - The Cops Arrive

Two men in business suits came running. Their faces were red and they were angry. I stood ashen-faced. But I was calm enough. It hadn’t been deliberate, after all. But I was glad my off-sider friend did most of the talking. “New driver.” “Still learning.” “Someone call the cops.”

Within five minutes we saw the patrol car turn in. A moment later two very casual uniformed policemen arrived at the scene. They spoke with my friend. They spoke with the other two drivers. Then they spoke to me.

“Going for your Class Three, eh?”

“Yes.”

“Well, good luck on that. ”

From my friend. “Are you going to lay charges?”

A sort of surprise outcome...

“Not against your man. You’re still teaching him. Misjudgment can hardly be called negligence.”

The elder of the two policemen turned to face the men wearing business suits.

“Who owns the Mercedes?”

“I do,” from the light-grey business suit.

“Right. And the Falcon?”

“That’s me,” said the second business suit.

“Right. Now I want you to show me your licences. Both of you are illegally parked!

The policeman turned to me and my friend. “You can go. You had to cut the corner to avoid the car coming the other way. You would have been okay, too. Problem was these two men were illegally parked. They were parked too close to the corner.”

Composure held...for just long enough.

Five minutes later I went for my “C” Class Driver’s Licence Practical Test. I passed with flying colours. Yep, crash-stop and the lot. Afterwards, I walked across to the office to take care of the paper work. That’s when I began to tremble. The shock of the accident had taken a long time in coming. But it did come. With shaking legs I collapse into a chair to fill in the various forms and papers. I was glad of that chair.

Hope you enjoyed that truck crash or, rather truck car accident story. I've now been driving for fifty-five years but, I must admit, as far as driving goes, they were the most memorable.

Keep smiling.

Tom.

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1 comment

wilderness profile image

wilderness 6 years ago from Boise, Idaho

Funny way to get a license. It reminds me of when my youngest son got his; just 15 and his Mom had taken him to get his first license. Of course he drove home (about 2 miles) and had to stop just outside our driveway as the garbage truck was taking garbage. Then the truck backed into him, while he simply shook and kept asking "What do I do? What shall I do?"

At least you got yours over before the license, not 5 minutes after!

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