The story about Fred, the freeloading fly, in a past issue of Pro-Trucker, got me thinking about wildlife affecting a driver’s working day. It doesn’t need to be something big like a Moose or deer to give a driver cause for concern, trying to get rid of an annoying insect has the capability to be just as dangerous.
Over here, we do get the occasional deer running across the highway, but mostly it’s smaller stuff, like rabbits and badgers. Badgers are on the chunky side and can do a bit of damage to your car if you hit one, I’ve been quite fortunate and never hit much wildlife in my years on the road. Although I was heading back to the depot in the early hours of the morning with my trailer load of car parts one day when a Tawny Owl failed to look both ways before crossing the highway. It hit the windscreen just above my head and jammed up into the tinted plastic sun visor of my Mercedes Axor. Luckily it didn’t break the windscreen or the visor, probably just broke its neck, poor soul.
It stayed there for the rest of the trip back to base with one wing flapping in the wind, for some reason the movie Moby Dick came to mind. When Captain Ahab was tangled up in the ropes on the back of the great whale, one arm was flapping as if beckoning to his crew to follow him. One young driver of a 7.5 ton GVW box van was not so lucky early one morning. At one time these vans could be driven with just a car licence, so more often than not, it was a young driver at the wheel.
In fact, back in the days when there was a bunch of us on the CB, a couple of young guys came on looking to join in with the conversation. They were double manning a 7.5 tonner with urgent parcel freight, non-stop to Birmingham and back, they asked what our “handles” were, but back then we didn’t bother too much about handles. The guy with the mike said they were, Batman and Robin, but that was the only time he ever used their handles, maybe due to our reaction, I don’t know…
But back to the unlucky young driver, I was heading north again when I saw the taillights and four-way flashers of a truck up ahead, it was a two-lane highway, and he was in the right-hand lane. I slowed down and passed him on his left - it was a 7.5-ton box van with the front badly damaged. On the road in front of it was a large dark coloured horse that had escaped from a nearby farm, I would imagine the horse was as big as some of the moose you guys get over there, minus the antlers. So you can picture the damage to the truck hitting a horse at 70MPH.
At least in the cab of your trucks, there’s a certain degree of protection. When I was delivering parcels as a young trucker, I was always wary of being bitten by dogs when delivering to homes. Although what had me on my guard were farm deliveries, farm dogs were usually friendly enough, what was never often friendly were geese. If you’re walking across the yard with an armful of parcels to the farm house and six or seven geese come squawking at you, that’s a worry.
Those big beaks are at just the right level to inflict serious pain to the most tender, vulnerable parts of a man’s body. In fact, there’s a bonded whisky warehouse in Dumbarton that keeps a flock of geese in addition to human security guards. Oh yes, a trucker’s life is not all beer and skittles.