Brightly lit wide load a new one on me

The in basket: I saw an unusual sight while heading southbound on I-5 between Federal Way and Fife the other night.

A large truck approached from behind me with two flashing yellow lights, each on the end of a row of non-flashing horizontal lights that ran along the bottom of the cab. The two flashing lights were so bright they illuminated the pavement ahead of the truck. There also was a vertical double row of yellow lights above each headlight.

I slowed down to see what it was and found it to be a wide load, which was covered by blue tarp. A “Wide Load” sign was attached to the back, which had remarkably few lights.

There was no pilot car in front.

I’d never seen such a lit-up truck before and wondered if it was a new approach to warning other traffic of a wide load.

The out basket: State Trooper Russ Winger, public information officer for the State Patrol here, says, “I’m not aware of any new lighting requirements for wide loads. However, according to one of our local commercial vehicle troopers, the truck you describe may or may not require pilot and/or trail vehicles with special lighting and/or signage.

“The requirements vary depending upon the length, width, overhang, gross vehicle weight and hours of the day.

There are specific requirements for commercial carriers that operate under the SMVP (special motor vehicle permits). The DOT web site, under commercial carrier SMVP, has detailed information and requirements for these types of loads.

“Some truck owner-operators greatly enhance the basic lighting on the trucks. As long as the lighting is legal (color, brightness and location) more is probably better than less for safety.”

I scanned that Web site but the only mention of lighting I found seemed to require lights on the load’s overhang beyond normal legal widths, which I don’t recall seeing on the truck on I-5.

Perhaps some of you truckers can shed some light on this.


2 thoughts on “Brightly lit wide load a new one on me

  1. More is better when it comes to lighting. While most companies that own the trucks will usually do the minimum, just about all the companies are changing the lights out with LED lights that are brighter. The trucks that are owner-operated will tend to have more lights on them, because they own that truck and have to pay out of pocket if something happens to that truck or have their insurance premiums go up if involved in an accident. So they will spend the extra money to light it up light a Xmas tree so that other drivers (4-wheelers in the truck world) can see them, because believe it or not as big as those trucks are and as lit up as they are, drivers just never can see them when they are changing lanes or when merging. Most people out there never want to be behind these trucks when driving on the freeway or the I and so they will speed up to get around them and then pull over in front of them usually to get off, because its like one minute they are seen and then all a driver is looking for is an exit and they cut the truck off to get off. So if a driver lights up his truck all the way around then if that keeps one more driver out there alerted to point that they can still see that truck. Trucks are in accidents everyday and so are cars. But when a semi hits a car it is way worse of an accident because most times, the drivers and passengers dont make it. And that can ruin a truck drivers life. Because then he has to live with the fact that his truck may have killed someone. And any accident involving a drivers semi goes on his permanent record usually whether they were at fault or not. So if lighting up a truck saves one life then its worth it to them. That and they do look cool, especially from a distance.

    Now I drove truck about 10 years ago and it was fun to me, but you know the only place I almost got into an accident was right here in Washington heading to Seattle. And I actually drove in 2 blizzards (one in Toronto and one in New York) and I got caught in a White Out in Wyoming and followed up a Tornado in OK. But it started raining one morning in Fife and I had a car in front of me hit their brakes after getting over in front of me and made me lock my brakes up. Scared me half to death because I could actually see the kids in their cars seat in the back seat of this car. I pulled off to settle down and smoke alot. And another thing is I always liked to drive in Canada because up there drivers actually avoided semis and when the highway was 4 lanes the 3rd lane was for truckers which made it nice. Things could have changed in the past years but you could always tell when an American was driving in Canada and compared to Canadian drivers. Canadians are less scary.

    On a another note, You drivers out there who wants to drive right behind a semi because you think it will help your gas milage, well that has been proven a myth unless you are less than 10 feet behind the trailer. So like the stickers say, if you cant see my mirrors I cant see you and that is true. Also riding along side of a truck in wither lane is dangerous to you and the truck. At any given time the wind can push a trailer over into another lane and that is physics not the driver that controls that and you can die. or get run over. At any time a tire can blow whether it is raining or not and knock a vehicle off the road or go through the driver and kill them. It was on mythbusters. So if you are passing a truck, then pass the truck. It helps the trucker out because then he dont have to worry about someone sitting in his air. Aerodynamics are very important to a driver. And doing 61 in a 60 is not passing and all that does is push wind shears into his trailer and creates a dangerous situation. I do wish that Washington would pass laws that help the truckers. In some some states it is illegal to drive anywhere near a trucker at speed. You have to give a cushion behind and a cushion in front. Safer for everyone.

  2. We like to travel with our diesel truck and camper. I think most new rigs have instant gas mileage readings or just mileage-average instruments. “Beartex” says that following a big rig closely does not improve mileage. Yes it does. We gain about 3 to four mpg’s following a big rig at legal and safe distances. Our rig is a 2015 Chevy Duramax dually crew with 5300 pound camper. Before this truck we had the same model 2013 GMC dually. And before that, a same rig except,,,, aw, like Bear say’s, physics is physics.

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