Pallegram | #8

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Have a heart for trucks, or why everyone should drive one at least once!

Taking different viewpoints, being tolerant for opposing standpoints, and, above all, really trying to understand other people… Although this might sound like the activities of a de-escalation seminar for communicators, it can, in fact, be easily transferred to the everyday situations we face in road traffic. And, yes, I also consider myself a formerly uncompromising road user who attempted to get his preconceptions confirmed during a drive.

I’d like to ask if any of you have ever experienced an infuriating encounter with other road users whose vehicle was bigger, smaller, faster, or slower than yours or who maybe drove an automobile from a certain brand? Yes, I’m guilty as charged! When I look back on my driving history, I have to admit that I should actually point at myself with both hands.

“A typical Sunday driver,” “There’s a grandpa/grandma at the steering wheel,” “Not surprising, seeing that he has a roll of toilet paper at his rear window,” “I bet that he has his name on a sign in his cab”… If you have never said or thought any of this, I will gladly recommend that you apply for a diplomatic position on the border between North and South Korea. I’ll just assume that nobody can claim that they’ve never had such thoughts… or do I actually have it all wrong?

”If you try walking in my shoes, You’ll stumble in my footsteps. ”

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Walking in my Shoes – Depeche Mode

Let’s be honest: After our second birthday, it becomes very hard to go through life without preconceived notions. Stereotypes are wonderfully clear-cut and convenient. Once we’ve given somebody a label, we have them neatly pigeonholed for life. However, in doing so, we miss out on experiences that are among the most beautiful anyone can have. That’s the case whenever we try to overcome our prejudices, think about what has happened, and divest ourselves of such resentments.

And that’s precisely what I have rigorously tried to do!

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been totally fascinated by trucks and buses. I was awed by their impressive size, the sometimes colorfully decorated cabs, and, of course, the times when the driver of such a “ship” pushed the button or pulled the cord to blow the vehicle’s horn.

Although the horn’s penetrating, sonorous sound didn’t traumatize me, it certainly caused my eyes to transport the strong emotions I felt down my young cheeks. Sigh…

I don’t think that I’m exaggerating when I claim that commercial vehicles have a big impact on children young and old. This is partly due no doubt to toy vehicles that are driven along futuristic-looking sandbox streets.

So I was pretty excited when I received an inquiry from the colleagues at Daimler Trucks & Buses, who asked me whether I would like to go with them to the FUSO test track in Kitsuregawa, Japan. I did let them wait a bit for my reply — about half a second, in fact. 

Because Japan is practically around the corner for me, it took less time to fly to Tokyo than to ride the bus to the test track north of the Japanese capital.

Daimler's three truck flagships: Mercedes-Benz Actros, Freightliner Cascadia, and FUSO Super Great.
Daimler's three truck flagships: Mercedes-Benz Actros, Freightliner Cascadia, and FUSO Super Great.

A childhood dream opens my eyes

The three ultimate childhood dreams were there waiting for me: a Freightliner Cascadia, a FUSO Super Great, and a Mercedes-Benz Actros!

Freightliner Cascadia
Freightliner Cascadia
FUSO Super Great
FUSO Super Great
 Mercedes-Benz Actros 1846 LS 4x2
Mercedes-Benz Actros 1846 LS 4x2
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What I didn’t know was that I would be able to test the driving assistance systems in the Cascadia and the Actros, above all Active Drive Assist, partially automated driving of Level 2. Not as a passenger, but as a driver on the test track. I was overwhelmed!

The following lines were written after careful consideration on the basis of my experience with 20 years of media hype, events, and many experiences that have sometimes pushed me beyond my horizons.

To have the chance to drive a truck and experience how attentive one has to be while at the same time witnessing how far technology has advanced… put simply, it was the most exciting driving experience of my entire life.

Not only because I was finally able to pull on the horn (or rather a cruise ship foghorn), but because it opened my eyes.

To drive a truck primarily means that you have to scan and monitor your surroundings even more intensely than if you’re in a car. When you’re driving a truck, you constantly look to see what is happening around you, you drive along curves completely differently than you normally would because of the length of the vehicle, you turn differently than in a car, and you repeatedly look into all of the mirrors. In a word, you’re always in surveillance mode!

To people who like to complain about truck drivers, I now have to say: “Try to do it yourself.” Honestly, only people who get the chance to be in someone else’s shoes can even remotely understand why they act the way they do.

Tolerance arises precisely when we try to understand somebody else instead of attempting to crush his or her arguments. And this realization is by no means limited to truckers, car drivers, cyclists, pedestrians or other road users.

Nevertheless… it was ultimately my drive in a truck that showed me what a fantastic job truckers do even though their work is extremely hard. I’m incredibly grateful for this!

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Sascha Pallenberg

At the age of four Sascha sat for the first time at the 24h race at the Nordschleife. Ten years later, in 1985, he went online for the first time. At least for a month, because then the phone bill surprised his parents. But at least this time still forms the foundation for his passion for the intersection of mobility and the digital world.

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