PORTLAND – Traveling in traffic is tough on every driver, but people whose job puts them behind the wheel daily say rush hour in the Rose City can be downright painful.
Imagine cruising along crowded freeways while pulling a trailer loaded with thousands of pounds of freight. KGW’s Mark Hanrahan rode along with a commercial truck driver during the morning commute to see what it was like.
Semi-trucks can’t maneuver as easily as cars. That’s why Eduardo Dominguez says he really has to think ahead about his route and the daily trouble spots he may have to navigate.
Truckers like Dominguez also get a better view of how everyone else is driving, and it’s often not good.
Click on this video to see the view from his cab:
At 7:30 a.m. Monday, Dominguez climbs into his classroom. He’s an instructor for Western Pacific Truck School and before that, he drove big rigs all across the U.S.
“I ran 48 states for eight years,” he said.
KGW wanted to experience the morning commute from Dominguez’ perspective and get his take on traffic in Portland, compared to other large cities.
“Portland traffic, for as small as it compared to the bigger cities of Chicago, New York, Detroit, things like that or bigger ones, it gets crowded really quick for the amount of people that are here,” Dominguez said.
Adding to the backup, Dominguez said, is the issue of how people drive. He gets a bird’s eye view of the worst offenders, including people who wait until the last second to change lanes, which he said are a constant problem.
Despite new laws, Dominguez says distracted driving continues to be a big problem.
“Some people are still getting ready for work as far as putting makeup on or talking on their cell phones,” he said.
Video: Dominguez on Portland's unique challenges:
And that’s not all. On more than one occasion, Dominguez said he’s seen road rage bring traffic to a halt.
He added that it’s not uncommon to look down at passing cars and see young kids loose in the back seat.
“They’re not buckled in the car seat. They’re just running around,” he said.
He also said that too many drivers fail to give semi-trucks enough space. At 60 mph, a fully loaded tractor trailer needs roughly the length of a football field to come to a complete stop.
Dominguez said too often, drivers only give him a few feet.
“They’ll cut in front of trucks with giving you only 6 to 8 feet sometimes, maybe less,” he said.
So what’s the solution? Dominguez believes a lot the congestion and safety issues would be improved if people just gave themselves more time to get to their destinations. That way, they would’t be in such a big rush in the first place.
Dominguez said he believes drivers in a hurry are a big part of what makes a difficult backup even worse for everyone.