My friend Joe West and I have lunch together several days a week. As most of you know, Joe is Mercer’s Claims and Insurance Manager. He and his staff settle the accidents and the cargo claims. To hear Joe tell it, he cleans up what I can’t prevent. That’s a pretty accurate assessment, but then Joe’s a pretty smart guy.

Invariably, our lunchtime conversation starts with family stuff, but nearly always ends with a discussion of accidents. Fortunately, Mercer is blessed with a bunch of great drivers. We don’t have many preventable accidents and even more fortunately, not too many folks get hurt. That is a credit to everyone’s commitment to driving safely and defensively. Most of our accidents involve animal strikes and truck stop parking lot crashes. It seems like it is open season on Mercer trucks at truckstops. We particularly seem to be most vulnerable to the “six week wonders” that several large motor carriers employ and train.  No, no names will be mentioned here.

At any rate, Joe says that this problem is reaching epidemic proportions. He wants to remind everyone that the only means you have to prevent being hit when sitting still is to be choosy about where to park. Joe is a common sense type of guy and he offers the following three common sense suggestions:

1. Try to park in a well-lit area, but in an area a little farther away from the restaurant, fuel pumps, etc. If you avoid the “prime” parking spots, there are fewer opportunities for getting backed into. You probably need the exercise from the extra walk anyway;

2. Do not park on the end of a row. This is where accidents causing the most damage occur. You can get into much more than a little fender bender when some clown turns across your hood because he or she forgot they were pulling a trailer. Being disabled in the middle of nowhere is your worst nightmare;

3. If you can park in between two trucks already parked for the night you have much less chance of being hit.  the open spot next to you may be taken later by a guy who is tired, trying to back in the dark who more than likely is unfamiliar with that truckstop layout. You can take these kind of drivers out of play around your truck if the spaces next to you are occupied. Your fate is more in your own hands that way.

Smart guy, that Joe West. Great advice. Remember, if something does happen, call the Claims Department immediately, 24-7-365 and report the accident at 1-800-626-5375 or through your coordinator. Be smart. Be safe.