How did you learn to drive?
For me I was like a lot of country kids I got to drive motorbikes, tractors and whatever else was around from a young age. Before I was legally allowed to drive on the road I knew how to control a wide variety of vehicles. When I finally became legal to drive at 17 (learners permit with licensed drive in passenger seat) I was taught how to drive by an extremely conservative driver. Of course when I was finally old enough to legally drive on the road by myself I did what most teenagers do, I drove like a racing driver, but things change.
I learnt that on my nightly drive home if I cut every corner I saved more than 300 kilometres a year. Given that after dark, which half my trips were done in, I drove in the middle of the road to avoid animals, cutting corners wasn’t a huge issue and despite it sounding unsafe oncoming headlights could easily be seen, so unless some idiot was driving around without headlights then the idiot cutting corners was not an issue.
Added to my distance saving ways I also took on Dad’s conservative methods of driving, saving fuel, coasting when able, not racing to a red light, not riding the brakes etc etc. I know it pisses some people off and quiet frankly I don’t care, the roads are not theirs to dictate how I must drive and anyone wishing to argue will find a brick wall to bounce their words off. It’s like religion, don’t push your beliefs on me, and don’t push your driving thoughts on me. I get told I drove slow enough to drive Miss Daisy and I really don’t care.
Interestingly enough when I drove trucks I used to get told for driving too fast and too erratic. Now I wont deny I didn’t drive the trucks like a maniac at times, I got paid for a minimum twelve hours even if I did the job in eight driving like a maniac was money for nothing. However the one thing in common between driving a truck like a Formula 1 driver and driving a car like Miss Daisy was in the back, I’ve never had an at fault accident in either form of transport. I’ve hit plenty of animals but I’ve only been in one accident and I was the front car of five rear ended at a set of traffic lights on Christmas day when a drugged up fuckwit decided he didn’t need to stop at a red light like the rest of us.
So where was I headed? Oh yeah how did you learn to drive? As I stated I learnt in the paddocks but driving a truck was a bit different. Our neighbour had a twelve tonne flatbed with an extended tray capable of carting seventeen tonnes (not legally), it was an old ‘73 Ford and essentially it was just a glorified car. It had a larger engine than a car and we used to use it to cart cow tucker but it was a standard six speed and required no special license to drive (as it was registered before it was extended). When driving one had to be aware of the rear overhang especially when turning but it really wasn’t much different to driving a car but it was the first truck I drove.
So how did I learn to drive a semi? The easy way?
We were in the bush, we’d loaded thirty five tonne of logs on the back and our neighbour (owner of said truck) and my dad got in the ute while I was watering the trees and drove off. Of course I heard the ute leave but figured there was only one occupant, however when I got back to the truck and realised I was alone I did what anyone in my position would have done. I got on the radio and abused the shit out of the two of them, to which they replied.
“You want to get home learn how to drive it!”
I guess there really is no substitute for experience and when one gets their articulated license through the appropriate channels they are taught to drive with a partial load, but they also have a licensed trainer sitting beside them. I was left in a ‘74 model International Harvester with a transplanted engine and after market 16 speed road ranger gear box and about three tonne overweight, about the only rule I wasn’t going to break was to be pissed behind the wheel, but that’s only because I didn’t have anything to drink.
Obviously I survived the situation and got that truck out of there with it’s load and everything else in tact. However looking back I really shouldn’t have been too surprised that it happened given that about three months before my teaching lesson the neighbour and I left Dad standing beside the same truck with a similar load on it laughing at his rude comments over the radio.
So why did I write this? I have no idea really. What I thought about writing didn’t happen and I wasn’t creative enough to come up with a new story…or did I? Guess the real facts are up to you to decide.