Motorcycle Tips & Techniques

Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics

Skip Repetitive Navigational Links
Safety TipsRiding Hazards   Tip059   Print article Print

Often make good 'riding buddies'

By: James R. Davis

When I was on jury duty a few months ago I had occasion to spend a lot of hours with a trucker who explained to me many of the things that I have always been curious about. Not the least surprising of which, considering the setting, was how many truckers manage to accumulate far more miles in their rigs than the law allows with the illegal use of a second set of log books. (The message here is clear - many truckers out there are TIRED - morning, noon, or night.)

[I have only been inside the cab of an 18-wheeler once in my life, when I was a kid. The driver had allowed me to ride with him between LA and Monterey along the California coast. I could not believe how hard it had been for him to drive that rig - it had a 'brownie' (second shift-lever) that he managed by looping his arm through the steering-wheel. Well, technology has come a long way in long-haulers and brownies are a thing of the past. But the driver's job remains a tough one, and motorcycles often just add one more worry for them to have to deal with.]

This trucker that I mentioned above claimed that two-wheelers, particularly those driven by women, (though they often get 'cat-calls' from his friends), are actually held in high regard by truckers - especially if they seem to know what they are doing. Motorcyclists, he said, are smart to keep their distance from the trucks. He said that though retreads have been banned from automobiles for many years, there are still trucks that ride on them and if one should blow the energy released is roughly equivalent to a stick of dynamite. A motorcycle that happens to be nearby would not stand a chance.

And though it is not possible to completely avoid riding on one side or the other of an 18-wheeler, he said, a smart motorcyclist would not linger there and would pass as soon as they could. He also said that motorcyclists that pass a truck only to then pull in front of it are smarter still if they do not pull in too quickly. He described a nightmare accident he once had where a small Toyota had pulled in front of him on the open highway then hit its brakes. He was hauling a load of steel rebars and there was absolutely no way he could even slow down before running over that car. Mass and inertia have their own rules.

As to motorcyclists in general, he said that he was no longer surprised at the number of times he would say something about a 'good looking bike' on the road near him to another trucker in the distance only to have that biker thank him with his CB. This, because he has come to understand that most touring bikes have CB radios and that they seem to have realized that truckers can make good 'riding buddies' when the motorcyclist is riding solo. He described dozens of times riding 'escort' for a solo biker, and sharing a meal with a few of them along his way. That they invariably talked about their bikes (and he about his rig) while eating and how impressed he had been that they were really 'into' and knowledgeable about what they (the bikers) were doing.

I thought I would post this here because we often hear bikers describe 18-wheelers in rather nasty ways - like they were generically dumb, illiterate, drunk, mean, and dangerous. Truth is they are just people with a hard job and they are on the roads with people that do not have sufficient respect for how much time it takes to slow/stop those rigs so are constantly put in risky situations as a result.

My experience with truckers has been almost universally good. Hope this little Tip causes a few readers to re-think their attitudes about them. A trucker can be a life-saver in time of need. Why not maximize the odds?

Copyright © 1992 - 2022 by The Master Strategy Group, all rights reserved.

(James R. Davis is a recognized expert witness in the fields of Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics.)

A plea for your help