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Truck Driver Tickets & Fines
If You Thought CDL School Was Expensive, How About a $3000 Traffic Ticket?
If you are ever driving a big-rig through Rhode Island, then you need to know about the Pawtucket River Bridge. You've probably heard of it. I'm sure I did. But with all the information people throw at you through school and orientation at a new company, it's easy to glaze over, or forget even the stuff you heard.
I sure didn't remember anything about it until after the fact.
I was near Boston delivering a meat load on a weekend. Once we finally got the trailer unloaded I checked it out to see how dirty it was. It looked like they had slaughtered the animals right in the trailer! But on a Saturday afternoon in the Boston area, there aren't a lot of places to wash out a trailer.
My dispatcher sent me down to Rhode Island to get the trailer washed out. It was a straight shot down I-95 and I'd asked my student to call for directions. What he gave me was a little garbled and there was something about avoiding a bridge. The problem was, by the time I head the directions, it sounded like there was a bridge that was under construction, and possibly impassible.
Not wanting to waste my time on a detour that would only have me stuck on a bridge that I coiuldn't cross, I stuck to the main highway.
I never saw the signs. (Which is wierd, because I usually do see the no truck signs when I'm driving.)
After I crossed the bridge I got pulled over and the officer asked me about those signs I didn't see. He asked my student why he didn't see the signs.
Then he told us it was a $3000 fine for driving across that bridge!
Even as a trainer, $3000 is two week's pay for me, and a lot of solo drivers don't make quite that much in a month. That's a huge fine!!
But then you have to remember the I-35 bridge in Minnesota. I've driven over that one too, and luckily not on the day it collapsed.
I-35 Bridge Collapse
How Could I Miss the Signs?
Nobody is perfect, and I'm not really even a candidate.
One thing I know about that day is that I was distracted. I had a student driver on the truck with me and he was asking questions as we were driving. Answering those questions is part of the training, which I took very seriously. I may have turned my head to look at him right as we were passing the sign.
One way to help fix this would be multiple signs, and spaced well ahead of the recommended detour. A sign right before an exit can be a problem even if the driver sees it, as they may need time to change lanes and exit safely.
Another problem is that I had never driven through Rhode Island before. Not having been in the state I didn't know about the bridge to begin with. But there are also small variations from state to state in the colors, sizes, and shapes of the road signs they use. When you are new in a state (or country if you ever get sent up to Canada) the odd looking signs can be confusing at first.
Signs are important.
And ordinary signs may be more useful than big flashy, off-colored signs. You train yourself to notice certain signs because of their standard size, shape, and color. Unusual signs can actually get screened out as irrelevant (just like a lot of billboards) when you are driving.
Still, I for one won't be driving over that stretch of I-95 in a big rig again until they get that bridge fixed, if ever.