I started out early one morning yes before the sun came up, as do most truckers. I had delivered one load of water, with my tanker, a few hours south of Boston. I stopped for coffee, for the ride back up to the mountains for my second load of the day. I walked around my rig kicking each tire as I do after hauling a load for few hours, all was good they were all still up and lights all were working properly so I made my way back into the driver’s seat.
I made the trip up into the mountains of New Hampshire for another tanker full of Spring Water. I took three or four loads a day, six to seven days a week into the bottling plants as we prepared for Y2K, do you remember that in 1999, as the world worried about life as the calendar turned to the year 2000? Well I had hauled rubbish, household waste for years then switched to hauling a nice clean load, one I never got my hands dirty or truck for that matter.
It was a gorgeous day out on the highways and back roads of New England. I reached the top of the mountain where the water came from the spring and backed up to test the water and load the tanker, all 8100 gallons. When it was over flowing I shut off the pump and closed the hatch on the top climbed down and went around to get back in the truck for load number two. I was grossing out at 103,000 pounds. Yes I had a reducible load permit, I was a Heavy Hauler.
I was always tense as I maneuvered my rig off the mountain, overlooking the Big Lake. See there was a stop sign at the bottom, silly engineers, and I don’t SWIM!
The ride through New Hampshire was once again beautiful and then I entered the highway where my speed increased and I was hammer down to get the load of water to the plant before they ran out yes that is how fast they were filling one gallon jugs.
As I made it to the tolls on Route 95 South I went through with my easy pass soon I would be in Massachusetts. This is where things went bad real bad and in a hurry. I had just gone over the nasty metal bridge in Newburyport when I saw a tire, yes a huge semi tire ready to cut in front of me. I had never felt anything at the moment it came off but now I looked to my left in the mirror and saw a school bus I blew the air horn very loudly turned on my emergency flashes to get everyone’s attention praying for myself to not hit this large tire and lose control of my rig and it’s load on board. I already had my foot off the accelerator trying to let it slow down so I could start dropping gears and make my way to the breakdown lane. Holding tightly to the wheel not knowing how this would play out I held my breath for what seemed like forever. This tire crossed in front of me and the bus and then headed for the median strip never loosing speed or falling over to stop the nightmare and then popped up beside a Black Saab, yes it has been 13 years plus and I remember vividly. The car thankfully was being driven by someone not texting or talking on their phone and they yanked the wheel to miss my tire it then went off the highway. totally.
Now as this was happening another tire came up beside me as I was trying to move over one lane at a time scared to death wondering if I could hold onto her as this had never happened to me not even in a car. This tire ran straight up beside me and then off to the right and over the embankment. You see I had 22 wheels on my rig and except for the two steering axle tires the rest of them were paired up.
I made it over to the breakdown lane and was happy my boyfriend was in the passenger seat for this trip not that he could do anything to stop the nightmare but I was shaking when I stopped and as he hugged me he said “I swear I do not know how you stay THAT COOL as you are at highway speeds and loose two tires and could have killed someone.” Who was COOL?
Now out of the truck and not wanting her to be destroyed by the weight and airbags and springs taking a beating I had him crank the landing gears on the tanker down and we unhooked the airlines and electrical plug and I pulled ahead. I then got out of the truck and I was so angry you see I had spent over $1,000.00 for two tires and new rims and all new wheel studs that weekend, I called my tire man from the side of the road and I can not say here what I said to him but I had him send a tow truck at HIS EXPENSE to come get me. I called the plant up in the mountains to send another driver for my tanker of water.
I then climbed back in the truck and then and only then did I EXHALE.
Life on the road is tough on drivers of rigs for they get no respect from other drivers but that day I earned their respect, for had I been a yahoo with no common sense they would not be here and you never would have lived a few moments in the rig with me. Yes I am a female trucker but a damn good one! Do you know the whole time this took place and then the wait that ensued I never saw one State Trooper you see they know me and I am responsible and courteous though at times going over the speed limit back in my trucking days, which is why I always put money back into my business equipment, my RIG, as I asked a lot of her. Now for the rest of the story some day I will finish it and title it THE TIRE MAN, as it is a good one!
A woman was just killed by a tire coming off a rig here in NH and I re-lived this event all over again bet you everyone on the road with me that day just over 13 years ago did too.
PAY ATTENTION not all things are within our power to PREVENT as I sadly learned.
Keep On Trucking!