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High Winds Serve as Training for Student Truck Drivers

posted on Thursday, November 12, 2015 in  College News

By: KWWL News

WATERLOO—High winds across the state are causing issues for truck drivers all over.

In Knoxville just south of Des Moines, a tornado was confirmed yesterday, where winds tipped a truck over on Highway 14.

Storm Track Seven's Jessica Hartman finding out how semi drivers prepare for high wind situations.

High speed winds and gusts that are even stronger, can very easily end in semis overturned like the one mentioned above.

For student drivers, learning how to handle a tractor trailer in this weather is imperative and instructors use accidents like these as an example.

"I can't say what happened in that accident, but he could have experienced a wind shear and there is a certain speed where that trailer is coming off the ground and as a driver there is nothing you can do. Hang on," said Marty Kroenecke, the Lead Transportation Instructor at Hawkeye Community College.

For many students at Hawkeye Community College, today's high winds were the first time they experienced that added danger.

"You could be going down the road just fine, one minute and pull out from a grove of trees and the wind would hit you," explained Jesse Murray, a student driver at Hawkeye Community College.

With 30 years of experience, Marty Kroenecke's best advice to his students: be prepared for the unexpected. "You never know when that next gust is going to come, when it’s going to go down," said Kroenecke.

Riding along, I could feel the strong winds pushing the semi off its path more so than in a car; he driver constantly reacting.

Then it was my turn to try handling a semi in 50 mile per hour winds using a simulator. As you can see it wasn't easy.

It only took a few minutes of driving the simulator for my arms to get tired. Imagine if you were doing it for eight hours.

"It’s not only mentally, but it’s also physically challenging because you are constantly making corrections on the tractor trailer," said Kroenecke.

On days like these, semi drivers are trained to take it slower. And as drivers sharing the road, it’s important we give semis even more room than normal around them, so they can react to those sudden gusts of wind.

The instructors at Hawkeye saying these winds are hard to handle, but with winter approaching, had snow been added to the mix it would have made driving semis impossible today.

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