Driving on US-95 between Needles, California and Parker, Arizona on a two lane road we were stopped by a highway worker acting as a flagger for the eastbound traffic. Further up the road there was a highway worker acting as a flagger for the westbound traffic.
Joe and I had been listening to an audiobook since leaving Las Vegas when we came upon the road block. Pausing the book we each questioned the reason for stopping.
Ahead there were no signs of road machinery tearing up asphalt nor laying down new. The roadway was clear except for a couple of pickups with ranch style livestock trailers off the road.
We wondered if one of the pickups had blundered and found themselves “off roading” in the desert instead of being on the pavement.
No. Both of the pickups with livestock trailers were soon back on the road heading toward us, then passing by.
The highway worker turned his stop sign around letting us know we were to proceed slowly. Soon, it became very clear why the road was blocked and the pickups with ranch trailers were out in the desert.
A cattle truck had wrecked, ejecting its cargo.
This type of an accident has a long reaching impact on many people, not just the truck driver.
Starting right at this point, the truck driver is stranded. His truck is wrecked and not driveable. How far from home he is we will never know. Maybe close enough for family to come get him, maybe hundreds of miles away. Either way he, or she, will not be making any money on this day nor tomorrow. This truck driver has possibly lost an income of $2,000 depending on how far the cattle have to be driven to the feed yard or sale barn.
The owner of the cattle has had his, or her, day ruined as well. These cattle were, more than likely, on their way to a sale barn where they would be sold “on the hoof”. That would be a set price per pound of live cattle. Easily selling at $300 each. There were possibly 20 head out there scattered around. Loss to the rancher. About $60,000.
If the truck driver owned the truck and trailer his loss could be up to $150,000. If he, or she, were a company driver then the business owner would be absorbing the loss.
One moment of not paying attention to the road will have a cost of $150,000 or more. Wrecker fees to right the tractor and trailer then tow them off the road. The highway workers won’t be working free out there. The state of either California or Arizona, whichever the wreck was in, will be charging for the disposal of the dead cattle and any other clean up fees.
Then there are the fees that will be charged by the drivers of the two pickups with ranch trailers. How much time did they spend out in the desert rounding up the frightened stray cattle that lived through the ordeal?
The realities of truck driving can be sobering at times. As you, my friends, drive your cars and pickups to work or shuttle your children around to their various activities I beg you to remain vigilant. You are all precious cargo to me and I only wish the best for you.