There’s a lot to be certain about when you’re driving a truck. You know you’re more imposing than pretty much else on the road. You can see more, anticipate more and from the elevated position of your cab, can reflect more on the foolishness and antics of lesser road mortals. Your philosophical reach matches the miles measured on your tachograph.
You know it will take you a good half mile to stop should you decide to break: you’d be better off making an appointment with your gear box to slow down, rather than rely on acting in the instant. You know you are carrying out some vital economic, social or cultural function: moving widgets by the million or self build furniture to homes bracing themselves for the arguments that will leap out of the box the moment they slit open the cardboard with a stanley knife.
Safe in this knowledge, the HGV driver reflects many schools approach to teaching children. They know the curriculum and navigate it with confidence; they will take a long time to slow down and change direction and are secure in the belief they are undertaking vital economic tasks: training the youth of today to be the economic generators of tomorrow.
However, HGV drivers have their achilles heels too. Their inability to see very much behind them and their innate inertia means they cannot respond easily when faced with an immediate accident in front of them on the Euston Road. They can easily jack-knife and cause hours of disruption for hundreds of fellow travellers if they spill their widget load over the Queens Highway. Their security in their knowledge is fine in times of certainty and if no-one else is on the road. These days however, nothing is certain and traffic is an inevitable consequence of venturing out on the road for everyone. “Don’t blame the traffic – you are traffic” as some bright spark in the automotive industry recently wrote.
HGV drivers, like cyclists and taxi drivers, could benefit from a course in art based research: the understanding and knowledge this would generate would help them become more nimble movers, respond more effectively to the needs of other members of the traffic stream and give them a sense of humanity when it comes to carving up a motorbike on the inside lane.
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