“Probably about 100 thousand a year,” he estimates as he stands in the banquet hall of Occasions By the Bay – surrounded by dozens of his fellow truckers gathered for an International Truckload Services Inc. (ITS) driver appreciation event.
That equates to almost six million miles of road he has witnessed, and whether it was hauling goods out to British Columbia or down south as far as California there was one constant throughout all of those trips.
“I’ve never had an accident,” he proudly proclaimed with a smile on his face.
That’s not to say the 78-year old Trenton resident hasn’t had his share of close calls.
There was one particular run down in Georgia which stands out in his memory. He was traveling with his wife when a rain storm spring up without any notice.
“Sun was shining one moment and it was just down-pouring the next, it was raining so hard you couldn’t see 20 feet ahead of you,” he recalled. “I was going probably 55 miles per hour in my tractor trailer and a pick-up truck came across the boulevard right in front of me.”
See’s quick reaction avoided a potentially dangerous collision, one all the more serious by the presence of two small children in the passenger side of the pick-up — the side See’s rig would’ve struck if he hadn’t managed to veer to the side of the road in time.
Those quick reactions served him again during a night-time trip through South Carolina when a woman driving a station wagon crossed the median and into the path of his truck.
“I slammed on the breaks and she just cleared the truck.”
One thing he has learned throughout his long career is you always need to “keep both eyes open”.
“You have to be on the alert all the time. People pass you and cut you off and they don’t realize. I’ve avoided hundreds of accidents.”
In recent years, with an increasing amount of motorists driving and texting, See has seen the potential for accidents more and more.
“It’s getting worse now, you have to watch all these new drivers.”
Trucker safety was a big component of Saturday’s appreciation event.
“It’s really about honouring them for their years of service and dedication to ITS as well as significant safety milestones that they’ve achieved with us,” explained Steve Farris, vice-president of safety and risk with ITS.
“We had 11 people here receive one-million-mile awards, six of which were accident free. Not even a scrape. That’s pretty significant.”
Farris equates the current trend of distracted-driving related incidents to how wide-spread drunk driving once was before higher public awareness and harsher penalties decreased the frequency of accidents of that nature.
“I think what we’re seeing with distracted driving is sort of a similar curve, where it’s a relatively newer phenomenon and it does impact our industry. Not only are we involved in collisions where our guy was not on an electronic device but clearly there are occurrences where our guys are, and they’re still learning.”
If there’s a curve to distracted driving accidents Farris and ITS want to ensure their drivers are ahead of it.
“In the professional realm of driving the drivers brought in are educated on that sort of stuff, part of their orientation training for example is a fairly in-depth component on distracted driving and the use of hand-held devices and so on and so forth.
“When they’re hired on with us or most major carriers they are acutely aware of the pitfalls and risks associated with that behavior. They also know that it could result in the loss of their job even if there wasn’t an accident. Just somebody having reported that or them getting a ticket could spell the end of their career, at least with us.”
During the early morning event awards were given out for 3, 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20+ years of service with the company as well as for one million miles driving with ITS and one million miles driving accident free.
“I would like to recognize… the owners of International Truckload Services for acknowledging their people in this way. I think it reflects greatly upon them as a local employer and I know the guys really appreciate it.”