How's your Perception?

You would have noticed recently an undertone in my blogs relating to road safety.  It’s a reflection of a perception shift and the increased awareness I’ve experienced over the last few months.  Last week I had another perception-shift I want to share with you.  I had an opportunity to experience someone else’s world. 

Yes - an opportunity arose to take a ride in a Kenworth logging truck.  Of course I said ‘yes’ immediately as it’s something I’ve been curious about for years.  Where do all those logs come from?  Heading up to the forestry blocks south-west of Kaikohe was like riding in a second story building with the most amazing panoramic views.  I could see for miles from my passenger seat on high.  The morning was still dawning and the mist and yellow sunlight played against one another through the Mangakahia valley as the world emerged from the shadows into full daylight. 

The peacefulness of the farmlands, the sparkling clarity of the trickling streams and the sun streaming through the trees and ferns was magical as the truck rumbled up the steep, narrow, metalled winding road to the skid site.  There was plenty of heavy duty machinery sorting, shifting and cutting logs ready for collection.  The trailer was lifted off by a large yellow digger and then the truck and trailer were carefully loaded and weighed ready for the haul down State Highway 15 to Northport. 

Getting to see what goes on behind the gates at Northport was a pretty cool too.  I have such a curiosity about large machinery that I could watch it all day, given the time, as there is so much about it that intrigues me.  The skill of the operators, the work that one machine can do, and to see women operating these huge crane-like machines on the port site was refreshing.  Once we were unloaded it was through the gantry to get the trailer back on the truck, a fuel stop and back up a Friday-afternoon, buzzing State Highway One towards home. 

Now … it’s very easy to refer to ‘bloody truck drivers’ on the roads - especially those of the logging variety.  Reflecting on my journey in the passenger seat for a day I know just how much more our truck drivers can see than I can from my car.  When I drove my car home after being in that two-storey vehicle for the day, I felt like a turtle on a roller skate – I could stuff all compared to what you see out the window of a truck.  And remember – it takes one-and-a half rugby fields of distance to stop 45-plus tonnes of truck, trailer and logs.

It’s my belief that accidents are caused by three things:  impatience, inattention and ignorance and I still believe that.  All drivers do the three ‘I’s’ from time to time as we all have moments of impatience, ignorance and inattention when we drive.  And that applies to ALL drivers, not just truckies, meaning you and me too.  It’s also very easy to generalise when every second or third truck we see on our Northland roads is a logging truck.  And yes – we always hear about them as a headline in the news. 

Here’s my perception shift - what would happen if you shifted your perception from the driving of others onto yourself?  How are you maintaining your attention, your patience and your knowledge of the rules when you’re driving our roads?  Are you giving our truckies plenty of space or are you pushing the gap?  Do you sit patiently behind someone who’s doing the speed limit in a road works area or do you pass?  (And shower them with stones)?  Are you aware of when you need to have your indicators on?  Do you know how to indicate going through a roundabout?    

Yes – we might not agree with the speed restrictions imposed by the road works teams who work tirelessly to patch up Northlands’ substandard roads but the signs are there to help them (and you) get home safe.  Remember – everyone on the road is someone’s mother or father, daughter or son, auntie or uncle, niece or nephew, grandmother or grandfather.  Roads don’t kill people.  People kill people.  People like you and me.  And it only takes a moment of ignorance, impatience or inattention to create a life-changing event.   

Will you shift your perception?