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.