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whatever happened to lane discipline, and what is it?

Driver #1: I’m just like every other driver out there plying the 401 corridor: I hate to back off the throttle since I’m governed at 99kph (love that word “governed” instead of “speed limited–Right O gov’ner check, my black box, eh what?”), even more so, I hate to make a brake application when unnecessary, but I really dislike having to throw on the binders just because buddy has been out in the left lane for 20 minutes, creeping up on me the last 5 exits. During that time I’ve passed four trucks and one car (ok I drive at night), now he’s closing in and getting a few lengths away and I come across a few real slow pokes in the right lane, a three-legger and a tanker and a car as well in the mix. Am I right to pull out in front of him even though he may have to put on the brakes?
Driver #2 In my opinion making excessive lane changes is dangerous and unnecessary. When I’m going to pass somebody I get in the left lane and stay there until I’ve done my business and passed who I want to pass. The four wheelers I don’t care about, they can do whatever they want behind me. The only time I’ll pull over for them is if they’ve got a red and blue flashing light on their roof. If I’m driving in the left lane to pass someone, and another truck pulls out in front of me and I have to put on the brakes, I consider that an unsafe move on the other driver’s part.
I think both drivers have a point, and there’s a little of both in most truckers. Usually, if I’m involved in a marathon passing session with another truck moving a fraction of a km faster or slower than me, I’ll back off and see if the positions realign, but I’ll pass a slow guy on a hill to keep my own momentum going…Sometimes I’ll notice someone slowly making a move at the top of the Kingston hill and they’ll catch me in Napanee. Then I’ll blow by them on Wooler hill and the dance begins again. But I have to say that it’s pretty polite out there most nights. Drivers give you lots of room. But I don’t think there’s any excuse for a professional driver sticking in the middle lane all the way through Toronto, and you see it not infrequently.
Last night I noticed a guy reading a book with the dome light on, and driving quite well actually, and another truck driver who was all over the road whenever he got past another vehicle. Most likely sleep deprived but I suppose he could have been drunk (actually they drive quite similarly). This guy would get past a truck or two alright and then would be floating across the lanes, or straddling both alternatively. I noticed he pulled over at Coutrice Rd. hopefully for a short sleep, it’s just too bad I can’t mention the company name, but I did chew him out pretty good on the radio, even though he probably wasn’t listening.
So blah blah, and drive safe, as they say grammatically incorrectly.

Harry Rudolfs

Harry Rudolfs

Harry Rudolfs has worked as a dishwasher, apprentice mechanic, editor, trucker, foreign correspondent and taxi driver. He's written hundreds of articles for North American and European journals and newspapers, including features for the Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Life and CBC radio. With over 30 years experience in the trucking industry he's hauled cars, steel, lumber, chemicals, auto parts and general freight as well as B-trains. He holds an honours BA in creative writing and humanities, summa cum laude.
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11 Comments » for whatever happened to lane discipline, and what is it?
  1. meslippery says:

    Well are going to vote for Dalton? or some one like
    Mike Harris who got rid of photo radar?
    Thats all we can do is make our dis -pleasure
    known to these people.
    It worked for photo radar.
    When you a have chance tell this people how you will VOTE. If they cannot help you you will find some one
    who will.

  2. “But I don’t think there’s any excuse for a professional driver sticking in the middle lane all the way through Toronto, and you see it not infrequently.”
    This, to me, is the single biggest change I’ve observed since speed limiters were mandated. And it does lead to more dangerous maneuvering on the inside lane by four-wheelers.

  3. jimh says:

    But I don’t think there’s any excuse for a professional driver sticking in the middle lane all the way through Toronto, and you see it not infrequently.”
    This, to me, is the single biggest change I’ve observed since speed limiters were mandated. And it does lead to more dangerous maneuvering on the inside lane by four-wheelers.
    Posted by: James Menzies | February 2, 2010 10:42 AM
    I have to agree with you there James. Last night I followed two Quebec based trucks who ran the centre lane all the way through Toronto westbound, not pulling into the right lane until the Milton hill. Very unprofessional in my opinion.
    Also, it seems like everyone runs 105 now, even those who were running slower in the past. It’s pretty sad seeing 1/2 dozen big trucks in the centre lane, nose to tail, doing 105.

  4. Bill E Bigrigger says:

    I don’t have a comment on this particular article other than to completely agree but I have been meaning to comment for a long time that I very much enjoy your writings. Sometimes I am simply amazed by your knowledge and other times I can just relate so much to what you say. At any rate keep it up you have been doing a fine job since I first read anything you wrote.

  5. Mike Kroetsch TS&CS says:

    I am not sure who needs the lane discipline training/road etiquette training more.
    I think that the acceleration ramps are the reason that many rigs stay in the center lane and not that I agree with them. I bet many of these guys got in trouble with the safety guy or had a close call or collision passing a ramp. To avoid the frustration and another collision risk they just thought they would stay in the center lane.
    If people learned to use the acceleration ramps this would help a lot. Use the full length and get to your speed quickly. Tailgating on the ramps is a problem as well. Try to find a spot on the highway when you are a car length behind the other guy.

  6. Richard Wolf says:

    As for trucks staying in the middle lane, that’s just fine. In most cases if cars are trying to pass, they are speeding and it is not the responsibility of the truck driver to aid them in breaking the law. It is legal to pass on the right in Ontario,so middle lane trucks are not impeding traffic. They are, in my opinion improving safety by staying clear of merging traffic.

  7. meslippery says:

    Every one thought speed limiting trucks was
    a good idea. Now there is un intendent issuse.
    Go figure. Well rest assured there will be more
    BS to follow unlike photo radar which was every one.Speed limiters only appliy to trucks. Who has the balls
    to limit all traffic?

  8. justajeezer says:

    i tend to agree that the bigger problem is with merging traffic. i try to use the right lane as much as is practical, but when you have traffic merging at 50-60 kpm, and theres an opening in the middle lane, it’s only makes sense to move over. i would rather see someone stay in the middle lane than cut me off as soon as they clear my front bumper just so they can be in the right lane for 30 seconds before they pull out to pass the next vehicle.

  9. popkorn says:

    most of the bigger responsible trucking companies are running 105-110kms but there are a lot of smaller ones that are not.
    And as far as Mcguinty goes wait until the new tax comes in the summer and see if you are still a good voting Liberal,if you think speed limiters has stuck it to you,wait until the new tax hits, you will wish your truck could not do over 90kms when you see the tax on fuel.
    Only in CANADA…. eh eh

  10. meslippery says:

    105kph is not so bad as a cruise speed
    it works out to 67 miles per hr
    But sometimes it nice to have extra to
    pass with out elephant races, or to get a run
    at a long hill.
    Most drivers with speeding tickets cannot be Insured
    as truck drivers there was no problem before.
    thanks OTA

  11. charlie says:

    The problem is that there are not many “professional drivers” left anymore. If you want a good argument for right lane only laws, just drive any 3 or 4 lane interstate and witness all the big rigs in the center lanes. So bad that other drivers are passing the on both the right and left. So much for right side safety. Hard to blame the four wheelers when it is the trucker in the center. Mitchell, Swift and covered wagons are some of the worst offenders.

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