I’ve been hauling horses on my own now for a few years, but every time I get behind the wheel of the truck when the trailer is attached, I’m still pretty anxious.
For the most part, I trust my own skills. I take it easy and slow when I’m hauling, and always leave for a haul-away trip with ample time to get wherever I’m going, just in case. What makes me nervous is what I can’t control: the blatantly clueless drivers all around me.
I’ve grown up in Florida, a state known for its mystery and stupidity, to put it politely. We’re also known for having some of the most congested and dangerous stretches of highway in the country. Oh, and those old senile snowbird drivers. It does it keep it interesting, I guess.
Recently I was hauling my Thoroughbred gelding to a veterinarian appointment about an hour away. The only way to get to the vet’s office in a straight shot was to get on the highway. It’s a drive I’ve made many times now. I happily plod along in the right lane, usually going just under the speed limit. I’m used to cars zipping by my rig on the regular now, with the occasional pissed-off driver riding too close to the butt end of the trailer, having a visible meltdown from my rear view because HOW DARE I GET IN THEIR WAY IN THE RIGHT LANE.
But I digress.
So here I am, doing my thing, driving slow but moving right along. My GPS alerts me that traffic is slowing down in a few miles, at an interchange with another highway system that is chronically plagued with congestion. I take this time to start slowing down preemptively, anticipating brake lights and ultimately the dead stop and in just a few minutes.
There’s a big RV pulling up near me in the middle lane of this three-lane highway, one of those garganchuan ones, that’s basically the size of a Greyhound bus. It’s pulling a small SUV behind it, and behind THAT, it’s pulling a little bike trolley, basically a mini flat-bed trailer with a bunch of bicycles on it. Clearly this family needed to bring all this and the kitchen sink on their holiday in Florida…
The RV driver does not appear to realize that the traffic is about to come to a standstill in just a few minutes. He is speeding up while the rest of us are slowing down. It dawns on him too late. Cue the tires screeching, plumes of smoke rising above the smell of scorched rubber. The SUV and bike trolley begin to fishtail.
At this point, my life is flashing before my eyes. I’m convinced this out-of-control RV is about to plow into me and the trailer. So preemptively, I begin to pull the truck and trailer over onto the shoulder, slowly but surely. The insane RV driver must have noticed, because he suddenly veers his custom-painted bus-mobile into the opening of my right line, now that I’ve managed to pull over, and proceeds to drive out of control off the road, into the grassy shoulder, and crash into a ditch with trees all around it.
I almost can’t believe my eyes.
I pull over at the next exit to get my bearings. My hands are shaking. I’m thankful that I made the right call in the heat of the moment. In a few minutes, I’m calm and back on the road. But not before a small Honda the size of a matchbox car cuts me off in a merging lane at the last second, flicking me off out the window along the way.