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Trucker roundup: 'blessed' survivor; dirty tricks; truck tech and what could go wrong

"In one second [of] time there I knew I just wasn't gonna make it out. I just remember everything." —Truck driver Joe Stroman

In this week’s round-up of news reports covering the wide world of trucking, we find the story of one very grateful trucker following his crash off of a bridge; accusations of dirty politics over Rhode Island’s truck toll plan; the growing use of simulators in truck driver training; autonomous trucks, chapter 33; and, finally, the tale of a Tesla that tried to park itself and ended up under a tractor-trailer.

Blessed to be here


Truck driver Joe Stroman has become known as the man who drove off the interstate in a tractor trailer, plunged off a bridge into a river, and lived to tell about it. Television station WIS-TV of Columbia, SC, helps him tell his harrowing story.

"In one second [of] time there I knew I just wasn't gonna make it out," Stroman said. "I just remember everything."

Underwater after his rig crashed from a bridge on I-20, Stroman managed to escape his seat and swim to the daylight. He heard voices calling to him from the highway. Multiple drivers stopped and called out, comforting him until help arrived. They were acts that Stroman says he'll always be grateful for, according to the report.

Dirty tricks for trucks 

The leader of the Rhode Island state Democratic Party is accusing Republicans of turning to “Wall Street cronies” and “out-of-state billionaires” to fund an “attack mailing” that targets legislators who supported a controversial new trucks-only toll plan, according to the Providence Journal.

"Unfortunately,'' said Joseph McNamara, a Warwick state representative, "shadowy conservative groups like the Gaspee Project still get away with underhanded mailings like this with no reporting to the Board of Elections website. I find it disgusting, especially with the use of patriotic symbols like the HMS Gaspee," McNamara said.

The mailings are coordinated by the Gaspee Project, named for a famous pre-Revolutionary War incident involving the British Navy and colonists in Rhode Island. The letters accuses the targeted legislators of “defying the will of the people” in imposing tolls that will raise the cost groceries, hurt growth and, ultimately, lead to new tolls on passenger cars, too.

More than a video game

Fifth Dimension Technologies

A simulation lab with $274,000 worth of equipment is one tool used by the Iowa Central Community College Transportation Technology Center to prepare students for real-life truck driving situations, according to a trucking industry update from the The Des Moines Register.

The simulators can test students in a wide variety of vehicles, across different types of terrain and in almost any weather condition. The simulators also can be used on students who are learning how to shift.

“The simulation gives students practice without tearing up a truck,” said center director Jeff Frank. “Learning to shift is really hard on transmissions.”

(See a Fleet Owner video featuring a driver simulator here.)

Frank, who has spent 37 years in the industry, told the newspaper the trucking  business has changed since he first got behind the wheel.

Indeed it has, and will continue to do so. Just take a look at the next item.

Why train a driver when you can train the truck?


is the latest consumer publication to take a look at the “nerve-wracking” possibility of driverless trucks.

And while the story acknowledges that a true, driverless big rig likely won’t be on the highway for a couple of decades, a study by a German consulting firm says that “in eight years or so, self-driving trucks will allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel, feet off the pedals and eyes off the road.”

But even though there’s a theoretical potential to save big on driver costs, the initial motivator will be improved safety.

"We expect regulators to [promote] this for the next eight to 10 years," study author Stephan Keese says.

Then again, things can go wrong with technology, as our final item suggests.


Your wish is my command—oops

A Utah man wants to know how his Tesla Model S ended up under the rear-end of a trailer in a parking lot.

According to the report by Salt Lake City’s, the car owner had parked, gotten out of his vehicle and chatted with a Tesla admirer for a bit before going inside to run an errand. When he came out five minutes later, the car had driven itself under the rig, smashing the windshield.

“We were trying to figure out how on earth the vehicle started on its own,” owner Jared Overton told the tv station. “What happened with this kind of rogue vehicle?”

Tesla, after reviewing the vehicle’s longs, determined it was the owner’s fault for improperly applying the Summon feature, which enables a Tesla vehicle to park itself, among other functions.

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