Some stories you can't make up. Truck driver Beant Singh Gill speaks more Punjabi than English. Which didn't help the British Columbian when Wisconsin State Police found his semi-trailer flying down the rural road to Sparta.
Gill did not respond to their signals, or to pretty much anything. He was finally stopped when the state police laid down a long series of tire spikes, according to the Minneapolis City News.
When accosted in the truck's cab, he managed to get out. Soon thereafter, the state police, perhaps confused by his lack of English, fired a series of non-lethal bullets, and Gill scooted back to the cab.
Terrorist? Who knew? Something smelled fishy on the sensors, so the highway was blocked as bomb sniffing dogs and the Madison (Mad City to its aficionados) bomb squad moved in.
The back of the truck was opened. What was inside? Large heaps of Monster energy drink. Police chalked up Gill's wild ride into nowhere (he was supposed to be heading for Canada) to sleep deprivation. Many wagged he should have been drinking the energy drink, not hauling it.
Maybe he was.
Driving While Unconscious
Truck driving is hard, and dangerous. When the National Transportation Safety Board looked at nighttime driving in the 70's, they found driving from midnight to six increased accident rates about seven fold, with six times the number of fatalities per accident. In other words, a forty-two time increase in fatal accidents for night driving truckers.
Lots of attempts have since been made to make truck driving safer. Now there are supposed controls on the number of hours driven. GPS systems let companies track their drivers, and recommend quicker routes. However, with economic pressures, truck drivers still:
1. Use illegal stimulants. Despite drug testing, some drivers know no other way than using amphetamines and "uppers" to get their job done
2. Text or call on cell phones. When the Secretary of Transportation saw evidence that texting increased truck accidents 23 fold, he banned it. However, when you're out on the road, cell phones get used a lot - though they may only increase accidents four fold
3. Have lots of sleep disorders, particularly high rates of sleep apnea, which often creates daytime sleepiness. And since having sleep apnea can legally disqualify you from driving, despite being eminently treatable, many truck drivers make sure they don't get tested
4. Use lots of "normal" stimulants like caffeine. Low dose caffeine can improve performance. High dose caffeine can make you irritable, headachy, and wired while exhausted. It can also whack your sleep.