Saturday, January 26, 2013


I hope to never have to say those two words again, and quite frankly, I've never been so scared in my life as I was Wednesday night.  We had finished up an overnight run into the Boise, Idaho area Wednesday  morning, and had gotten the usual 10pm load time at Americold in Ontario, Oregon for that night.  It had been extremely cold all day, starting out at near zero and hovering at 20 degrees throughout the day.  Our loading of the frozen fries went smoothly, and we started out on our 640 mile run to Pleasanton, CA for a Friday morning delivery.

The first 30 miles went great, with the exception of ice forming on the sides of the windshield, the roads seemed fine.  "Seemed" is right, because what we couldn't see was the smooth, clear sheets of ice forming onto the road as we approached our first hill.  It didn't take long for us to first feel the tires slipping and then lose traction as we slowly climbed.  Halfway up we could go no further and knew we had to put chains on.  Thankfully, on the secondary highway we were on, Highway 95, there were two lanes for uphill traffic, and by blocking the outside lane, there was still room for any other vehicles to pass safely by.

We quickly put on a set of chains on the drives and one on the trailer and continued up the hill.  We passed a couple of other trucks that were stuck on the road, and to be honest, we should have wised up that it wasn't going to get any better further up the road, but with no turnouts or places to pull safely over we continued on.  It didn't take too much longer before we were stuck again and had to stop to put a second set of chains on the drives.

We finally reached near the top of the summit when we again lost traction.  Looking ahead we saw at least 6 other trucks and cars in the same situation.  We were able to get as close to the side of the road as we could, and we assessed the situation and decided to stay put until some sand or daylight helped the situation.  Heck, even the DOT trucks were having a hard time staying on the road and getting sand on the roadway.

About three hours later, we could hear traffic moving by us, and we got up to assess the situation.  Finding the roads sanded, we drove to a flat area and took the chains off and continued onward.  The roads were fine for awhile........then the next major grade we came to the black ice appeared again.  We lost traction, truck sliding one way, the trailer the other way, and we had no choice but to stop and put on chains again.  By this time we were experts putting on chains and we had them on in 10 minutes flat and making our way up the grade, knowing full well that we were shutting down at the first available place to pull off the roadway.

We managed to drive 190 miles in 9 hours, between that 3 hour stop and putting on chains.  There were way too many times we lost traction, too many times we could have lost our lives, and too many times we knew that we should have never left Ontario after getting our load.  I have no doubt, that by the grace of God we were saved from a serious accident, and have vowed to each other that we will never have another night like that again.  Thankfully, this time we were given the opportunity to live and learn.


Anonymous said...

Glad you made it

Pat said...

Glad you're ok. Doesn't the state shut the roads down?

The Daily Rant said...

Good to hear you made it through okay. 190 miles in 9 hours?? Holy crap. We don't drive in ice - we just shut down until it clears. No freight is worth an accident, or the aggravation and stress of driving so tense and so slowly. They can wait, I don't care who it is. Next time, tell Craig to stay put until morning!

june in florida said...

I hit black ice in the mountains in NW Arkansas, major drops on either side so i know how you felt.Glad your ok.

all things bradbury said...

yikes!!....we had a similar experience this week also...only ours happened on i-40 in new mexico! icy, wet snow started & instantly the road turned to crap!..we lost traction when we had to stop for other trucks & started sliding backwards down the hill!!!....we jack knifed jut bout as far as you can without actually hitting the trailer....thankfuly brad was able to come out of it but then we slid into the ditch & had to get a tug out of it! one can ever say trucking is dull & uneventful!! will continue to pray for your & craig's safety!!...we're headed home for a few days!

Marlaina said...

My heart was in my throat reading this. My only fear greater than black ice is being confronted with black ice and having nowhere to get off the road. I had one incident near Plymouth Indiana about seven months after we started driving. We managed to crawl three miles into the Pilot. Now if we think it's ice, we stop.

Winter is miserable. Be safe. All of you. Bradbury's too.


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