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Faster trucks the stuff of nightmares

It was 16 years ago, but part of me is still sitting inside my station wagon as it slid across the Toll Road. I can still see the truck, unable to stop or veer away, and I remember realizing that it was, inexorably, going to plow into the side of my car.

There was nothing that I could do but watch. My car had hit a patch of black ice and slid off the right side of the highway. Striking a guardrail, it careened back onto the road, headed across the right lane, into the left lane and toward the median.

The truck, a two-load semi, was behind me, going west, as I had been. Its horn blasted and its grille loomed larger and larger in my passenger window. I must have looked away at the last second, because my crystal-clear memory of these moments goes blankjust before the truck struck my passenger door.

I walked away from that crash, probably because I was driving my wife’s Volvo that morning and not my own, less-sturdy vehicle. I had a bruise on my shoulder and a red line where the seatbelt dug into my chest. My car was totaled, and the truck also sustained some damage. As he walked back to the police cruiser that had pulled up behind us, the truck driver paused and looked in the window of my now-empty car. “I didn’t expect to find anybody alive back here,” he told me as we sat in a police cruiser a few moments later. A kind young Minnesotan, he was clearly shaken.

We both knew the crash began with my driving, not his. But he said, “I just couldn’t stop. I’m sorry.”

The memory of that crash focuses me when I drive in bad weather now. I take this stuff seriously, and I hope you do, too.

But I also relived that moment when I heard of Rep. Washburne’s proposal to let truck drivers drive faster on the interstates.

– Tim Harmon

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