Monday, May 14, 2012

A rare glimpse inside tragedy

In the May issue of Land Line Magazine, you’ll find a story I may be more proud of than anything I’ve ever worked on here at OOIDA.

For years, Land Line has envisioned a story about how truckers face their worst nightmare – a fatal wreck – even when the wreck isn’t their fault.

Death is always difficult to deal with, but the shock and ugliness of a fatal traffic wreck is sadly unique.

Few are more acutely aware of this than truck drivers. Highway interchanges, entrance ramps and plenty of questionable decisions from motorists allow for so many encounters. It’s a wonder we don’t see more death and awful injuries after highway wrecks between drivers and passengers of all vehicles.

Recently we were able to interview three OOIDA members who have faced that nightmare – who have fought the demons that come with such a tragedy and who are standing on the other side.

These drivers – Ray Shankle, Joel Robinson and Wayne Dalrymple – remained engaged with trucking and their families after each incident. They didn’t hide, didn’t self destruct. In fact, if anything these three drivers say they opened up to life and to others in ways they hadn’t before – even if wounds from the wrecks never totally heal.

It’s impossible to talk to three people with that kind of life experience and not be changed yourself.

On another note, it seems all too frequent when mainstream news media identify a pickup driver suspected of DWI as a “trucker,” or otherwise accuse truck drivers before facts are sorted out.

Lately, however, we’ve seen more journalists of all stripes willing to take a look at a horrific wreck from the trucker’s point of view – something that’s not always easy for a newspaper editor who works with political leaders and local residents who all too often scapegoat trucks and truck drivers.

It’s nice to be able to point out the good work so many journalists do. Almost makes you wonder if these writers and editors gained new perspective after talking to people who had lived through these roadside tragedies.

I know I did.


  1. Read your article and it was spot on. I have two drivers with my company who were both involved in fatal, not at fault accidents. Both still have tough days, nightmares, etc. Both were absolutely not at fault in subsequent investigations, but they were vilified by plaintiff's attorneys in depositions and ultimately, the mediations. They were made to look like criminals to extort money out of my insurance company, and that REALLY had a lasting impact on them. Unfortunately, its the nature of our business. I copied your article and gave it to both drivers. They have both thanked me profusely. Keep up the good work!

  2. it's a shame how the law and everyone thinks about truckers everyone want's a truck when they want there goods and that's the only time there happy to see a truck the police target truck for the higher paying fines but watch the road and people have no respect for the truck on the open road they think they can stop on a dime while they are cutting trucks off then, when they can't stop in time and plow into the car then it's the fault of the truck this issue should be looked at more carefully and before getting a drivers license there should be more education on trucks


Leave a comment here.