Drivers' Corner - Caring in Action
How important are clearance lights? On Christmas Eve a few years back, I was traveling to Houston for a festive holiday with my wife's family. My wife had gone ahead in our car and since I had a delivery in Houston after the holiday, I was driving my 18-wheeler. My two sons were with me and we were having a ball. I had all the usual things necessary for a great holiday. Gifts for the family and a ham that was already cooked to add to the dinner the next day. Stuff that would not fit in the car.
Traffic was bumper to bumper. I think everyone in Dallas went to Houston for Christmas. And it was one of the darkest nights I could remember. About 50 miles south of Dallas, I suddenly came upon a tractor running bob-tail. He did not have any lights on the rear of his tractor.
I shut down as quickly as I could. I went into a skid to the left attempting to steer to the right to miss the bob-tail tractor. I wound up off the interstate with only a little mud damage and without forcing anyone else off the road. The bob-tail disappeared as quickly as he had appeared. I lost about an hour getting everything back in shape and went on to enjoy a great Christmas. (I did clean the inside of the tractor, if you know what I mean.)
Clearance lights became very important to me after that. I became very conscious of my unit's clearance lights. Some things I learned:
- Check all lights during your pre-trip inspection. Your headlights, turn signals, emergency flashers, and brake lights are important, however, so are all of your clearance lights.
- Check the previous inspection report for problems other drivers might have had with the clearance lights. Make sure your maintenance department has corrected all problems.
- Check your plug connections between your tractor and trailer to make sure they are secure.
Bottom line: You cannot be seen without lights--so light up!