90 Miles Each Week on US 25E Across KY & TN with Crucial Lessons for Drivers, Operations & Safety Teams
It’s a beautiful winter’s morning in Appalachia. There’s not a cloud in the sky. You round a corner, hauling a full load. All of a sudden, the drive slips out from under you. You manage to barely pull your rig back on track, but not without your heart skipping a beat or two.
For those of you who haven’t traveled this stretch of road, I’m talking about US 25E between Newport, Tennessee and Corbin, Kentucky. But I’m not just thinking about this stretch of treacherous road. They exist all over the country…
Like many beautiful four lane divided roads, it looks like a relatively manageable surface – but looks can be deceiving. When ice and snow settle in, and the early morning January sun has melted the condensation on most of the road, there are still pockets and corners in the shadows where the weather has left some icy patches.
This section of US 25E is a 90 mile route that can take a fully loaded rig up to three hours to safely complete. Did you hear that Dispatch? That inch-and-a-half on the map can take three hours to make a safe run…
- There are at least four school zones.
- There are highway patrol officers stopping traffic at the top and bottom of hills during certain hours of the day.
- There are tunnels that are not managed safely, where the rain and snow create gentle but deadly traps.
- Steep grades, tight turns, it’s a real Safety Gauntlet!
I asked a colleague of mine who has been driving the route for more than eight years to describe it. He says it’s “a whole lot of ups and downs and crooked as a snake.” Even with recent improvements that make the route safer, there are still curves you come around where you hope and pray there isn’t another truck waiting for you, promising either a head-on or a near miss.
So What’s My Point?
25E is not alone – many roads around the country pose the same safety challenges. Here at Cautious Coyote, we know a lot of folks who drive or manage drivers on this road. We think that understanding this road will help drivers on all roads stay safe.
For the next seven weeks, we’ll be talking to people who know this route and know how to safely manage it. Starting next week, we’ll be producing a weekly short video conversation between myself and a driver, a safety manager or someone from operations/dispatch. Each of these departments will have a different perspective on US 25E. We’re including all of these viewpoints to provide a collected set of knowledge that you can use to manage this route – or any other similarly dangerous stretches that your company drives.
At the end of the seven weeks, we will offer a free, condensed safety guide for you to use throughout your organization – for drivers, operations, and safety managers. Along the way, we will be sharing more in depth coverage of the challenges we face on a four lane divided highway with open access and changing conditions and situations.
Hope you find this series useful. As always, you can email me or register your thoughts and ideas right here on the Website. This series and all of our work at Cautious Coyote is meant for fleet professionals – so your input only makes us better at what we are trying to do!