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  This is one of several Fun Pix resulting from my experiences with Habitat For Humanity.
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Dump Truck

dumptruck.gif (1641 bytes)

I found this signage on the back of a big dump truck at a Habitat for Humanity construction site, and all three messages interested me.


First, starting in the middle, do you have any idea how far 300 feet is when you're driving?  Can you imagine staying one entire football field's worth of distance behind any vehicle, even, say, a bomb-disposal van?  For example, at 25 miles per hour, which is probably faster than average big-city traffic travels, it will take you 8.18 seconds to travel 300 feet.  Check yourself out next time you're traveling 25 miles per hour to see how far 8 seconds is, by using this method:

  1. On a straight road, pick a spot ahead of you that's going to be easy to see in your rear-view mirror after you've gone 300 feet, such as the far edge of an intersection.
  2. While driving at 25 mph, start your stopwatch when you pass that spot.
  3. Staying at 25 mph, count off 8.18 seconds, then look back at that spot to see how far you've gone, which, if you've been accurate, will be 300 feet.
  4. Now imagine staying that far behind any dump truck in front of you that's bearing this sign.  I think you'll say what I said when I first saw this sign, which was, "I don't think so."

Second, what does "Don't push" mean?   Is it a slangy way of saying, "Stay back 300 feet," like, "Don't push me, man" or "Don't push your luck, buster"?

Or does it mean, "Don't push this vehicle with your vehicle"?  I mean, what are the circumstances under which anyone is going to try to push a dump truck that's as long as a semi?  If you know what this means, or if you just have a better guess, please , because I really don't.

Third, the best one: "Not responsible for damaged vehicles."

If that's all it takes to avoid a lawsuit -- to post a sign disclaiming responsibility for what would otherwise be one's legal liability -- then I say we should all post such a sign on our vehicles.

Think it'll work?

Update of August 21, 2006:  The article below ran in today's edition of The Kansas City Star.

Update of October 2000:  Because of a later development, I will tell you a little more about this.  I first spotted this truck on a Habitat for Humanity site, where the owner of the trucking company was donating his time and his truck to the cause.  But at the time I didn't see the back of the truck, and I paid little attention to the owner.  At one point he asked me to move my motorcycle so he could drive off with his load of dirt, which I did.

The next time I saw the truck was a week later, in a parking lot, where the owner was directing the loading of the truck on a paid job.  It was then that I saw the signage on the back of the truck and realized it was too interesting not to get a photograph of, so I went home, got my camera, and returned.  I got off my motorcycle and walked to the back of the truck, where I started taking photos.  The owner saw me, got down off his truck, and accosted me, wanting to know why I was taking pictures of his truck.  I told him I thought the signage was funny, but, oddly, he never asked me why.  He wanted to know whom I was with (I guessed he was thinking maybe the Department of Transportation or something), and I told him, "No one."  He asked my name, so I smiled and held out my hand and said, "Johnny.  What's yours?"  He shook my hand and said, "Tom."

For some reason one of the Bobcat operators had walked over to my bike and written down the license plate number, which he proudly showed to Tom.  Tom volunteered that "all dump trucks" have the same signage on the back (a contention that is disproved by the simple method of observing the back of pretty much any other dump truck in the world).

So, the week after that I was back at the same Habitat for Humanity site when I saw the same truck, and I saw a driver I thought looked a lot like Tom talking to one of the other volunteers.  Later I asked that volunteer who the driver was, and she said, "That's Jefferson.  He's a nice guy."

"OK," I thought, "I guess there are two drivers who just happen to look a lot alike," and I thought no more of it.  But then last week (yes, last week) I was back at that same site, as was the dump truck.  I accosted the driver, Jefferson, and asked him whether he had a driver named Tom.  He looked at me a moment and then burst into a big smile.  "Oh, you're that guy who was taking pictures of the back of my truck.  I should have recognized you from the red motorcycle."

"Yep," I said, "and your name's Jefferson, not Tom, isn't it?  I thought maybe you had a twin brother."

We got to talking, and it turns out he is a nice guy, just like that volunteer had said.  He never explained why he had given me a false name, and I didn't pursue it.

Anyway, he asked why I had been taking pictures of the back of his dump truck, and I told him it was for a Web site I have.  Yet again he never asked why, which still strikes me as odd.  Anyway, it was then that he told me he needed someone to throw up a Web site for him, so of course I asked why.

He said, "A few years back I sold the rights to my product to a manufacturing company in California.  In fact, the proceeds paid for this truck.  Part of my agreement is that I put up a Web site to promote the product, and I'm looking for someone to do that.  I'll pay you."

"Sure," I said, "What's the product?"




Update of January 05, 2002: I've finally received a credible answer to one of my three questions above.  According to a dump truck driver named who stumbled onto this page:

"Dump trucks often get stuck on construction sites.  The DON'T PUSH sign is for loader and dozer operators, who think they can just run up behind and push them out.  While this will most likely get them unstuck, it can also bend the tailgate and damage the hinges on the dump box."

Also, although Butch offers this explanation based on many hours of on-site experience, I still wonder why pushing a dump truck with a front-loader would necessarily damage any part of the dump box.

For that matter, in my part of the country we call it a Porta-Potty.


Update of January 6, 2004:  Here rendered verbatim is another of the many e-mails I've received on this subject.

Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2004 5:11 PM
Subject: fpdumptruck.htm



Update of January 21, 2005:  I received three e-mails in eleven minutes on the subject of this page from an engineer employed by the municipality of Miami-Dade, Florida.  Note the motto in his signature block.

From: Joe
Sent: Friday, January 21, 2005 11:49 PM, 11:51 PM, 12:00 PM
Subject: fpdumptruck.htm

Blah, blah, blah.

Engineer 2
Voice phone: 786-555-5555, Fax phone: 786-555-5555
"Delivering Excellence Every Day"

Now note that Joe works for the Miami-Dade sewer department.


Update of May 8, 2005: 

From: shannonyounger
Sent: Sunday, May 8 2005 9:15 AM
Subject: fpdumptruck.htm

Way too much time on your hands!  You're taking up valuable space on the internet that could be used for something worthwhile.  That was the dumbest article I have ever come across.


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