Is it ever appropriate to call in and report a fellow truck driver? That’s the dilemma on-road editor Harry Rudolfs struggled with recently, after another trucker nearly ran him off the road.
He wrote about his account of events in this month’s issues of Truck News and Truck West. Here’s a summary: Trying to keep my truck from dropping off the shoulder, all I could do was watch helplessly as the trailer’s taillights diminished into the distance, my heart racing and my head steaming with anger.
A few minutes before, everything had been going along swimmingly. It was a beautiful moonless night, very little traffic on the 401 at one in the morning somewhere between Brockville and Kingston, Ont.
A tractor-trailer had pulled out to pass and I thought nothing of it. He was slowly gaining on me, but about halfway past he suddenly put his right signal on. The thought struck me immediately: he’s coming over and he’s going to take out my driver’s side. I stood on the brakes while swerving violently. Time slowed almost to a standstill as I gripped the wheel and waited for a collision. Somehow, the corner of his trailer just missed clipping my front end by millimetres.
I could only get a couple of numbers off his trailer. My truck only goes 100 km/h and he was probably doing 105. Nothing I could do but watch him disappear down the road while I flashed my high beams and fumed.
That would have been the end of the story except about 20 minutes later I see him pulling into the westbound Gananoque scales, which are closed as usual that time in the morning. I couldn’t just let this thing go; it was gnawing at my insides. I had to find out why he tried to run me into the rhubarb.
I pulled over past the scales and backed up. Let me tell you, I was feeling plenty of anxiety as I approached his window…
He opened the window a crack. “You almost killed me back there,” I told him. “What’s your problem?” He was only a young man, late 20s, probably driving a broker’s truck, and evidently a new Canadian with limited abilities in English. “You…was…back?”
“Why did you cut me off?” I asked. He replied with a sheepish smile and rolled up the window. Still fuming and shaking, I walked back to my truck after memorizing the licence plate.
To summarize, Harry decided to call the driver’s company and report the incident. Next day, he gets a call from the driver himself who blamed Harry for costing him his job!
“So I have to admit to having mixed feelings about this episode,” Harry writes. “I never did find out why he cut me off and an apology in broken English would have been enough. But I certainly didn’t want to get him fired. And the owner should not have given out my phone number, but he clearly had a duty to investigate my complaint.”
Was he in the wrong to ‘drop the dime’ on another driver? Or was it the right response? Harry says he still isn’t sure, and would be interested in feedback. E-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or post your comments here.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies