Almost every day, sometimes several times a day, I see other truckers broke down on the side of the road.
Frequently, they’ve blown a tire and they’re either waiting for a service truck to arrive, or the service truck is there replacing the tire.
Well, after nearly five years of driving 18-wheelers all over the country, I’ve had my first tire blowout!
Now, I’ve had flat tires before; sometimes when I hook a trailer I find that it has a flat. And, if the trailer is empty or has a light load, I can sometimes drive to a repair shop to get it replaced.
But, with a heavily loaded trailer like I have on this trip, I’m stuck on the side of the road until help arrives!
But, discovering that the trailer you just hooked has a flat tire is nothing compared to the experience of having a blowout while driving down the freeway!
I felt the trailer shutter at the same time that I heard the tire explode! I looked in my mirror just in time to see the tire disintegrating!
Side note: I hooked this trailer the night before after dropping a loaded trailer (a drop & hook operation) at a customer near Dallas and, during the pre-trip inspection I performed at that time, had identified a bad tire on the other side of the trailer and had it replaced later that night; so, it’s not like I’m not looking for these problems. Oh well, I guess you can’t see everything.
It’s kind of a scary thing to be driving at freeway speeds and have a tire blowout for the first time, but I feel I reacted properly; I pulled over onto the shoulder as far as I could, knowing that the service tech would be replacing the tire on the road side of the trailer.
8:15 pm: I called Schneider’s Emergency Maintenance hotline to let them know that I am broken down, where and why, etc. so they could contact the nearest available service truck to replace my tire.
I put on my safety vest, dug out my warning triangles and set them up.
Then, because it’s one of my pet peeves when other drivers leave their tire tread lying in the road, I hiked the half mile or so (it takes a lot of space of stop 40 tons of truck, trailer and cargo!) back to where my tread was lying in the middle of the freeway and moved it to the shoulder so as not to create a hazard.
After being on hold with Emergency Maintenance for over 35 minutes, I finally reported in with the specifics of my breakdown, only to be told that I would get a follow up phone call from a service tech sometime in the next two hours, at which time they would then contact a local service company.
What?!? Two hours?!?
It sounds like Schneider’s Emergency Maintenance department needs a better system for responding to breakdowns! But, it is after normal business hours, and as we all know, breakdowns rarely happen after hours…;-)
2:40 am: Six and a half hours later, I finally get a call telling me that a service truck will be dispatched and should arrive in two hours or less. Unbelievable!
I could have been sleeping, had I known.
4:30 am: Tire service technician wakes me up to let me know he’s replaced the tire. I thank him and go back to sleep.
9:40 am: After 13 and a half hours parked on the side of the interstate, am finally ready to roll.
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