Play Stupid Games, Others Win Terrible Prizes

, , , , , | Legal | October 28, 2020

When you drive articulated lorries for a living, swapping trailers is a normal part of the job, often taking a different trailer that’s been left standing somewhere, but occasionally live-swapping with another driver. 

The intended order of things when uncoupling a trailer is trailer park brake on, landing legs wound down, air and electrical lines disconnected, and then the fifth wheel coupling — that links the trailers “kingpin” to the tractor unit — is released and you can drive off, leaving the trailer where it is.

I am doing a live-swap with another driver because he doesn’t have enough working time left to make the delivery today, but I do. I meet him on an industrial estate on a road that has a mild incline with him further up the hill than me.

I’ve just wound my trailer’s legs down and am at the rear of the tractor unit undoing the lines when I hear a loud bang.

Other Driver: “F***! F***! F***!”

A second later, I am thrown hard into the front of the trailer and knocked out.

I wake up in hospital several days later:

Doctor: “You’ve fractured your skull and suffered a major brain bleed.”

I am in hospital for a further week before being released.

What transpired — and was caught by my lorry’s dashcam — was that the other driver had, for whatever reason decided to release the fifth wheel coupling before doing anything else and his frantic swearing was him releasing thirty tons of loaded trailer to roll off down the hill.

My tractor unit was a total write off from the damage but really, it’s fortunate I “caught” it before it really picked up speed, because if it had made it to the bottom of the road, it would have smashed through an office building and almost certainly killed someone.

The other driver was fired and brought before the traffic commission. He was stripped of his HGV licenses for the incident. He also faced criminal charges for reckless endangerment and destruction of property and is currently serving his sentence at the time of this posting. 

I’ve since made a full recovery.

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