Important safety lessons about dirt roads, kids and their first car, I mean truck. Country roads are not just a John Denver song. I grew up on dirt roads, drove too fast, jumped snow banks and drove in the ditch. I had an angel not letting me get in trouble, but I learned a lot. Like me, my sons learned to drive in the country. Dirt-gravel roads can be dangerous, soft shoulders try to suck you in the ditch, but the ditch is usually safer than trying to turn hard to the left and roll your truck. My sons both had classmates that died on dirt roads because of soft shoulders and no training. If you get near the soft shoulder, of course slow down, but don’t try to abruptly turn away from the shoulder (usually don’t turn left). If you have to and it’s not a deep ditch or a cliff, just drive down the ditch. You can get pulled out of a ditch, but rolling the truck can be very bad.
Then there is towing wide trailers on gravel when the trailer will drop in the shoulder before the truck. In the country there can be farm machinery as wide as the road over the next hill, like combines and swathers. Some gravel roads are very narrow and then there are hills and not everyone drives on their side of the road on hills. At night, there is always the danger of deer, cows, coyotes and pheasants crossing the road to commit suicide in your radiator. And, of course, there’s irrigation sprinklers that aren’t adjusted to keep the rain bird end gun from pouring water on country roads. Following a semi-truck too close can put you in a dirt cloud, where it will be hard to see the gravel road and you won’t see vehicles coming at you going past the truck in your direction. Dirt roads get damaged easier than pavement, leaving soft spots you don’t expect and wash board roads that will bounce your vehicle sideways. Rain, mud and snow make the point that slowing down is the best thing you can do, slow down!
Why should your child’s first car be a truck? I started driving when I was 9 or 10 years old. First trucks I drove was a 1953 Ford F250 and the 1947 Chevy 2 ton. When we loaded hay from the field with the Chevy, my brother fell off the bales a few times with what my dad called “jack rabbit starts.” I think trucks being taller with better visibility and a frame under them, makes them a stronger vehicle. A single cab truck can only hold two friends. Trucks don’t have the speed of a muscle car. They need a truck to haul around a lawn mower and make money or haul their parents new furniture. Trucks are great for moving to college. Trucks can last for decades. I have a nephew I sold a truck to 15 years ago and he’s giving it to his son. You always need a truck. All your friends will want to borrow it. I think you should collect them. ❖