View from the cab: Safe driving tips from a CHS truck driver
Mark Siefers drives his CHS crude collection trailer an average of 120 miles a day through rural Kansas.
At 4 a.m. in Great Bend, Kan., 60 miles west of the CHS McPherson refinery, Mark Siefers climbs into his semi-truck pulling an 8,400-gallon crude oil trailer and starts his day. As a truck driver gauger, he takes samples of crude oil from wells in rural Kansas and loads the oil out of stock tanks into his trailer, then heads to the nearest pipeline terminal.
“I do a lot of off-road driving in the country. There’s not a lot of traffic, but I’m carrying hazardous material, so I’m constantly thinking about safety,” says Siefers. “On average, I only drive 120 to 175 miles a day. I make a lot of short trips back and forth through rural areas, so I’m always on the lookout for farm equipment and school buses and keep a safe distance from them on the road.”
In August 2019, Siefers was recognized as a CHS Transportation Million-Mile Safe Driving Award recipient. He has driven over 2 million miles without a safety incident, the equivalent of driving around the world 80 times. With decades of safe driving experience and a unique view from the cab, Siefers shares safe driving tips he wishes all drivers would follow:
Make a full stop at stop signs. “As a truck driver, this is my biggest pet peeve. Every week, I see two or three people run stop signs. When coming to an intersection, I always slow down and assume the other vehicle isn’t going to stop.”
Put your phone down. “From my cab, I can see right into vehicles, and every day I see drivers texting while driving 60 to 70 miles per hour. It’s terrifying and disappointing to see so many people driving while distracted.”
Slow down, especially on gravel roads. “Where I live and work in rural Kansas, we have a lot of sandy gravel roads. If you’re driving too fast and hit a pocket of sand, it can pull your vehicle right into the ditch.”
Be aware of semi-trucks and keep a safe distance. “I wish people understood how difficult it is to stop semi-trucks and get them going again. There is so much weight and momentum from these trucks and we can’t stop them as quickly as other vehicles. Please leave plenty of distance when following semis and use your turn signals – tell me you’re going to turn, and I’ll give you plenty of room. Your safety is important to me.”