Trucking Digest

Here we are again and I’m struggling to get back to the regular Thursday spot. It’s been a busy couple of weeks and I also felt that I owed it to two of our regular photo-challenge providers to prioritise responses to them before this post. This is going to be a post that tackles a difficult issue on the real roads whilst seeing them in the context of a game.

This week I’ve been driving for the community and delivering goods to and from Germany. Driving in the new Germany is great. Driving in the old German map is less so because you get some unpleasant little tricks from the ai drivers on the 3-lane autobahns – changing lane into the rear of your trailer when you’re already in the lane for example. That’s clearly a game anomaly and while the fine for a collision that was not your fault is frustrating, it’s not the end of the world. The only sin here is the breaking of immersion when it happens – not a real world accident! Now for something different.

On Monday I was driving 24t of excavator from Köln to Lyon. The route takes you along a single carriageway road between Mannheim and Strasbourg and includes a number of sharp bends close to the border between Germany and France. In Germany the speed limit for trucks is 60kmph and in France it increases to 80kmph on this stretch of road. My regular readers will know that I take driving my truck very seriously. Whilst this is a ‘game’ it’s also a simulation where we can choose to do things correctly. So you will know that I was driving this road in accordance with the rules, speed limits and the physical limitations of a heavily loaded trailer. Hopefully this has set the scene for you.

Just after crossing the border there is a sharp left turn so I’m down at 35kmph for that because of the load. We then commence a climb approaching a quite tight right-left s-bend in a cutting. At this point I’m up to 45kmph – so below the speed limit for the road by a significant amount – and looking to perhaps continue the acceleration as we flow through the corners. I enter the right hand corner with heavy opposite direction traffic. Then suddenly, coming around the opposite left-hand turn there is a car – on my side of the road! I have just about enough time to start braking and then we have collided 😦

In the real world this is a fatal collision for the car driver and any passengers he/she has on board. It’s potentially also fatal for the truck driver. I’ve had the opportunity, because it is a game and because jobs just happened to take me back over that same stretch of road 5 times subsequently, to review what happened and to consider whether I could have done anything different to avert the accident. So lets look at the facts.

This accident happened on a corner that was blind to me due to the terrain and the opposing traffic. However, I am driving significantly below the speed limit in consideration of that fact and my cargo’s centre of gravity. The same is true for the car driver – he cannot see past the vehicles he is overtaking to assess whether there is a clear road ahead. The right hand bend where the collision happened has a continuous white line which means no overtaking. Interestingly the preceding bend has a dashed white line which in the real world could have contributed to the driver thinking he could legally overtake. But that doesn’t mean he should overtake approaching and on a blind corner! I haven’t even touched upon the terrain and the issue of vehicles hidden by dips of the road – again, my presence could well have been hidden by the way the road falls away at this point. All of which is irrelevant because he just shouldn’t have been on the wrong side of the road at all 😦

You must be asking yourself – why am I talking like this ai driver is a human being? Because, sadly, I read about accidents with similar stories almost every week. Families who tragically lose loved ones because of stupid driving like this. All that happened on Monday is that I saw a very accurate in-game replay of the real world tragedies cause by impatience, bravado and stupidity on the real world roads. I’m here to write about it but in the real world that might well not be the case 😦 Games do sometimes show real life for what it is. I would ask all my readers to drive safely and with consideration for all other road users. Please don’t risk it on blind corners because you’re late for that meeting or party. And definitely don’t drive flash to show off to your mates 😦

That’s €21k damage to the truck, damage to the cargo and, to add insult to injury, I get a €400 collision fine! And the ai drives off with the opposite direction traffic making room for him. Now that’s immersion breaking 😉 Sorry for the lecture on safe driving – Hopefully next week’s Trucking Digest will be a happier affair 🙂

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