Croc's Thoughts

How well do we observe our surroundings? We all understand the "Five Points" we all think we are safer if we get the "Big Picture" but I wonder if we apply that in places other than the road.

Kevin Kimmel was awarded recently because he didn't only get the big picture he noticed part of it that wasn't right, reported it and saved a young life from Human Trafficking. When I was younger and living in England we suffered under terrorist attacks in London. Everyone learned to notice the unusual, people who were acting strangely, bags that were left unattended and so on and nobody thought twice about picking up the phone to call the Police. This is something we are just learning in America.

Recent attacks in Tennessee, which the White House refuses to call terrorism, resulted in the deaths of four Marines and one Sailor. I wonder if our Flags would be flying at half staff if someone had been more observant.

America is at a point in time when Observation is a must. We use "Get the Big Picture" as part of the five keys to Safety but getting the big picture has to mean more as we move into a time when terrorism is coming to the American shore. The Police and other Law Enforcement Authorities have already told us that the problem is becoming one that they can't handle anymore. Remember the bad guys only have to get it right once, we have to be right every time. We don't only have to get the Big Picture, we have to look at the details within the picture.

Ellen and I arrived in Joplin and spent a little time in the Inspection bay as usual. Next we fueled up and while the expensive liquid burbled into the tanks I took a moment to look around the area. Everything looked normal until I noticed that an outside company was changing tires on the new trucks that were being prepared to join the fleet. We have all seen them, the company changes out the single drives replacing them with super singles. What didn't make sense to me was that they were exchanging the steers - brand new rims for brand new rims and brand new tires for brand new tires.

I took my observations to the Maintenance Department and learned that what was actually happening was that the outside company was exchanging unbalanced tires for balanced ones. I wasn't aware that the truck factory didn't install balanced tires - hey, who knew.

I was wrong but does that matter? We all see things on the road around the country that doesn't look right and most of us ignore it, we don't want to suffer the embarrassment of being wrong now do we? I called in once because we drove past a mattress on the side of the road that was covered in what looked like blood, and a lot of it. Probably wrong but maybe .....?

Many years ago during my Navy days I had been ashore and was returning to my ship through the dockyard. I was stopped by Police and Bomb Disposal people who had been called out because of a suspicious package. Along with others I waited until there was a loud "Pop", I remember being surprised that it wasn't an explosion. The Pop was a small charge designed to cause enough violence to the package that it would explode, if indeed explosives were contained within. In this case the sandwiches contained in the package didn't explode although there was little left to eat. A dockyard worker had forgotten them and so they were 'processed' for safety. Nobody complained that people had to be called out to deal with the sandwich package, the alternative is too much to contemplate.

I spoke to another driver in a Truckstop Restaurant who told me about something he had seen but not reported because he, "... didn't want to get involved." Folks, we are all involved whether we like it or not. The world we lived in has changed; we are no longer living in the America of "Happy Days", we are being hunted. We can bury our heads in the sand and wait for someone to kick us in the ass or we can wake up and start paying attention.

A program known as Highway Watch managed to recruit over 800,000 drivers and others, training them to watch for anything suspicious and report the information to the correct authority. This has now been taken over by a program called "First Observer". The objective remains the same: recruit and train trucking and other highway professionals to help protect transportation against terrorist attack. And the components of the program are similar. They include outreach and recruiting, training, maintaining a round-the-clock call center, providing an Information Sharing and Analysis Center to serve as a conduit between the industry and government, program oversight and - new to this contract - long-term planning.

Not only is there a necessity for Truckers and others to keep our eyes open and be aware of dangers associated with driving, we absolutely have to keep an eye out for suspicious activity in our changed world.

Don't be afraid to get involved and don't worry about being wrong. Click here to check out First Observer.

Just a thought.

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Anyone who spends time on the road behind the wheel has time to think. Thinking can be dangerous. Well it is for me and it gets me into trouble more than I would wish.

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