(Tampa Bay Times – Mark Puente) With a bright moon lighting the hilly interstate, rock music vibrated the big rig I drove from Cleveland to Charlotte that Sunday evening. No other vehicles were around as I rolled toward West Virginia on Interstate 77.
Then an explosion shook the cab.
For a split second, I didn’t know the source. The front of the rig then teetered to the right. My heart sank. I squeezed the 18-inch steering wheel as it shook violently. My wife and three sons flashed in my mind as I tried to control the 80,000-pound rig from careening into a ditch and rolling over.
I did. As I squeezed the wheel, I accelerated slightly to stop pulling to the right. If I hit the brake pedal, I could not have controlled the rig. Instead, I applied the trailer brake to take pressure off the drive and steer axles. The truck stopped after about 100 yards.
Those front-tire blow outs can be deadly to control -–– especially when 40 tons of steel is rolling at 65 mph. How would a self-driving semi truck have fared? I’m not yet ready to find out. Are you?