Being Alert Can Make All the Difference


David Flaherty is named a TCA Highway Angel for noticing a potential problem and acting on it

Alexandria, Virginia:

Photo:  David FlahertyMany times, when people spot something odd on the side of the road or in a passing vehicle, they will assume the driver has the situation under control and keep going. Fortunately for one lucky motorist, professional truck driver David Flaherty does not think that way.

Flaherty, who lives in Walkertown, North Carolina, and drives for ABF Freight System, Inc., of Fort Smith, Arkansas, has just been named TCA’s latest Highway Angel. On November 10, 2013, Flaherty was driving along I-85 near Concord, North Carolina, at about 11 p.m., when he saw an intermittent flash of orange light ahead in the darkness. He eventually caught up to the vehicle—another tractor trailer hauling doubles—and realized that the flickers were actually embers of heated metal falling from an area near one of the inside rear tires.

The other truck driver had no idea that there was a problem. It took Flaherty about 10 minutes of honking and flashing his lights to get the man to understand that he needed to pull off the road. Together, Flaherty and the other driver used both of their trucks’ fire extinguishers to smother the embers. But that was not enough, so they started pouring whatever drinks they had in their vehicles—water, sodas, even cranberry juice. By the time the fire department arrived, the smoldering was finished; but just then, the tire blew very loudly!

If it weren’t for Flaherty’s alertness and willingness to go out of his way to stop the man, it is likely that the trailer would have caught on fire and destroyed the load inside.

“It’s amazing how quickly a tire fire can burn a truck to the ground. They generate a ton of heat,” said Flaherty. “Another ten minutes and that fire would have burned through the floor of the trailer and destroyed the load. I’ve seen it before… it goes up like a torch.”

TCA has presented Flaherty with a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate, and patch. The organization also gave ABF Freight System a certificate acknowledging that it has a Highway Angel in its midst.

Since the program’s inception in August 1997, hundreds of drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the unusual kindness, courtesy, and courage they have shown others while on the job.