view of truck's side mirror from inside vehicle
CAN YOU SEE ME NOW? Farmers who haul livestock in a trailer rely on mirrors to see the cars around them. Too often, they have to use them to avoid a collision with drivers who are too impatient when trying to pass.

Livestock hauling leads to road rage

A message for the driver who thinks my truck and trailer should handle like a sport sedan.

My fellow driver, apparently today was a hectic one for you. You clearly needed to get somewhere fast. Your impatience was astounding.

Using the left lane, I just passed a semitractor-trailer on the interstate sluggishly trying to make it up a hill. But you thought I was too slow. At the point I knew I cleared the front end of the other truck, I began to make my merge. My mistake. There you were. In my right-hand mirror. Just a quick glimpse of a small black car. Fortunately for you, I checked my mirrors. I didn't realize that you wanted that lane to pass me on the right. Here is what you do not understand — my truck and trailer do not respond like a sport sedan. One quick jerk of the wheel can have disastrous consequences.

Hauling livestock to market can lead any sane farmer to road rage. It is not enough that we wake up at 5:30 a.m. to load animals, fix the trailer light adapter because it never seems to work the first time, recheck the latches to make sure the livestock stay in and then finally fill up with fuel — all in the rain — only to encounter that one commuter who just cannot be patient.

Here are a few things I wish my fellow drivers of cars, trucks, minivans or motorcycles would understand when they encounter a truck and livestock trailer.

I am hauling precious cargo. Farmers work long hours — sometimes months — caring for the animals inside the stock trailer. Selling them at markets or to fellow farmers are the means by which we add income to our operation. Getting them to their destination in a safe and stress-free manner is important to us. However, for many farmers across the country, it what sits inside the truck cab that is truly priceless.Farm families travel together to sales, fairs and other farms. Inside that cab can be a dad and his son, a grandfather and granddaughter or an aunt and her nieces. Sudden movements of the wheel to avoid distracted or impatient drivers only jeopardize the safety of every person and animal in my load. I need you to value them as much as I do.

I am not trying to delay you. I do not care what kind of truck you drive; when loaded down with a trailer full of animals, it will slow you down from time to time. Trust me, when I see a hill coming I try to get a good run at it and then keep the pedal down, but there are times my best is not good enough. And when faced with a slower vehicle in front of me, I do not get into the passing lane just to slow other people down or to annoy you; it is because I have thousands of pounds behind me pushing. If drivers can give farmers a little time and space, they will get up to speed, pass the vehicle and move over to the right lane. I need you to be patient.

I need to see you. Unlike the open-window view with a sport sedan, farmers hauling trailers have limited visibility. The only thing we see out the back window is our trailer. So, we rely on our mirrors. And in a phrase lifted from most semitrucks, "If you can't see me, I can't see you." Weaving your car back and forth into my mirror view is not helpful. I see you and then I don't. I realize it is the universal road gesture for "get out of the way," but I don't know if you are zigging or zagging. And it forces me not to move. Farmers do not want to endanger the lives of anyone on the road, so I need you to be visible.

Fellow commuters, we travel this road together. We can eliminate the rage that sometimes accompanies our journey if we are patient with one another, aware of our surroundings and — above all — considerate of our cargo.

TAGS: Livestock
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