All That's Trucking

Popular Mechanics Tells Readers 'How to Avoid Getting Squashed by a Semi'

February 6, 2013

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Popular Mechanics magazine, which takes on topics ranging from "Ab Machines That Work" to "How to Make Beer," now adds sharing the road with trucks to its repertoire.

In a web story this week, poetically headlined "How to Avoid Getting Squashed by a Semi," CDL holder Mac Demere offers real-world advice to four-wheelers in a straightforward, humorous and sometimes unapologetic tone.

"instead of complaining about getting a semi's wake blown all over your windshield or being stuck behind a truck lumbering up a hill, it's time to get serious staying safe around these huge machines," he writes. 

He goes on to offer advice about passing a truck on the right (don't!), the problem with blind spots ("blind fields," Demere calls them), stopping distances and more.

"Once, an inattentive four-wheeler driver realized he was about to miss his exit. He yanked in front of my big rig, jammed on the brakes, and came very close to discovering whether there's life after death." 

Demere, according to his website, is a veteran journalist who has written for Motor Trend, Popular Mechanics, edmunds.com, Kelley Blue Book and others. He was editorial director of SportsCar and Performance Racing Industry magazines. He's a driving and tire safety expert and a former race driver, who competed in the NASCAR Southwest Tour and Rolex 24 at Daytona.

It's not the first time Demere has tackled the task of trying to educate auto drivers about the challenges of driving a tractor-trailer. A link on his website goes to an article on another automotive website, "Behind the Wheel of a Big Rig: Familiarity breeds content when sharing the road with 40 tons and 18 wheels."

"Approaching a toll booth not long after I'd earned my Commercial Driver's License," he writes, "I calculated that my truck was the proverbial camel attempting to go through the eye of a needle—we'd need a miracle to make it." After watching another trucker navigate the booth, he made it, but, he writes, "for a long time, when another big rig passed to my left, I had to fight the urge to tuck in my left elbow."

It's nice to see articles like these out in the mainstream media to help educate the general public about sharing the road and the importance of trucking and truckers.

Comments

  1. 1. Mac Demere [ February 06, 2013 @ 03:10PM ]

    Thanks for the kind words, Deborah. I think the definition of "journalist" to know a little bit about a whole lot!
    I wish I could have shared the experience of testing a truck maker's electronic stability control. When I got behind the wheel I said to myself "This may be the only time you drive a truck with outriggers, make it count." The engineers said, "Yank the wheel as hard as you dare." (Later, my co-workers said, "God Almightly, never say that to Mac." Anyway, they said I alternately had one or the other side tires in the air. For a snippet of me drifting a Freightliner, go to macdemere.net/videos.html.

  2. 2. Roger [ February 12, 2013 @ 09:20AM ]

    Great article here and that video of you drifting the truck is amazing!

  3. 3. Mac Demere [ June 28, 2013 @ 07:28AM ]

    Here's a note I wrote to ARC trucking about the driver of tractor 522 pulling trailer 833. I sent it to info@arctrucking.ca. If this is the wrong ARC, help me find the right one. This regarded an incident on I77 on Monday June 28 at about 7:30 p.
    I held a CDL until April. I am a journalist who has written many trucker friendly articles.
    http://www.realcarguys.com/post/Driving-Around-Big-Rigs.aspx
    http://truckstopsolutions.blogspot.com/2010/04/behind-wheel.html
    One of your drivers, apparently with a severe anger issues and total disregard for safety shafted a friend.
    Statesville, NC funds almost all of its city budget with traffic tickets written on I 77. The limit on 77 is 70 in most places but 55 where they need the money.
    I was driving 59 to 61 mph (as reported by GPS). I noticed a clean, red big rig coming down the on ramp. I moved left---more like forced left--into the gaggle of cars driving 70-plus mph. I wanted to allow him to merge.
    When I cleared him---he was still going slower than 61---I merged back into the right so as not to get run over by the cars behind me.
    Mr. 522 charged up to within less than a half car length of my bumper.
    Quite a nice thank you for allowing him in. I didn't have to merge. I could have stayed right and hung him out to dry. But that's not me.
    It's also not me to fund the City of Statesville. I was already six mph over and they write for seven. (I'm friends with NASCAR champ Brad Keselowski. If 522 want to learn bump drafting, I'll arrange a lesson.)
    When he found a place in the left lane, I pulled in behind. He dropped his left tires past the fog line to spray my car with water and whatever else is out there."
    NASCAR drivers have a saying "I'll race him the way he races me." I apologize in advance to those in clean read tractors in NC: Your truck looks too much like a dope's, so you ain't getting any special courtesy around me.

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Author Bio

Deborah Lockridge

Editor in Chief

Truck journalist 21 years, joined us in 1998. Plans and coordinates editorial, specializes in maintenance, drivers and fleet operations.

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