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Can’t we all just get along?

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Ever since mankind invented the wheel there have been problems, but most tend to pale in comparison to the issues involved in cars and trucks sharing the road.Both motorists and tr...


MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – Ever since mankind invented the wheel there have been problems, but most tend to pale in comparison to the issues involved in cars and trucks sharing the road.

Both motorists and truckers can tend to have disdain for each other. By in large, the motoring public is uneducated on trucking and how to properly drive around big rigs. Particularly the elderly – and other fainthearted drivers – freeze up, intimidated by the overwhelming size of modern units.

It’s not uncommon to see outbreaks of white knuckle as motorists roll past in the left-hand lane. Very few know anything about trucks, so their fears – although unreasonable – are graspable: People always fear the unknown.

Much of the blame should fall to the various provincial governments. Most motorist handbooks contain very little instruction on sharing the road with trucks. Even in the case of the few that do, most motorists haven’t read their manuals in decades.

In the U.S., truck insurer John Deere has printed thousands of books informing motorists on how to behave around commercial units.

Meanwhile at home here in Canada, the scale is tipped drastically in the other direction with most of the literature coming from fear-mongering groups like the rail-funded Canadians for Responsible And Safe Highways and four-wheeled lobbyists, like the Canadian Automobile Association.

Together with the mainstream media, these groups have misinformed the public about trucking for years. They have used hype as well as smoke and mirrors to play on the ever-present public anxiety about trucks in an effort to further their own special interests.

No matter what part of Canada you focus on, examining the statistics shows the vast majority of Highway Traffic Act violations, accidents and fatalities don’t involve tractor-trailers. In fact, the few truck crashes that do happen are generally caused by careless motorists and not by the truckers.

For some reason there seems to be very little concern over the number of poor motorists, while professional drivers are forced to live their lives under a microscope.

Cars blend in on our roads; they are far less conspicuous than the trucks they frantically scurry around on a daily basis.

Size and attention seem to go hand-in-hand. So enormous rigs attract enormous attention. The various provincial carrier associations rightly support road patrols that report unsafe or unprofessional drivers to their employers. The only problem is, who takes calls reporting unsafe motorists?

The high perch of a large vehicle offers a great vantage point from which to observe traffic and the many unsafe motorists out there. Many seem to be in some big hurry. We’re the ones who face Just-in-Time delivery schedules. Why are they allowed to go so fast?

The reality is perfect drivers – no matter what size vehicle you’re talking about – simply don’t exist. People will always finger point at the guy one lane over, but never look at themselves with objectivity.

There are several bad habits that will let you know you’re not sharing the road properly. Do any of these traits sound like you?

You speed up when a truck tries to pass you.

You drive much faster than the flow of traffic.

You drive much slower than the flow of traffic.

You change lanes too closely to heavy-duty vehicles.

You often sit behind or beside trucks for long stretches getting lost in their massive blind spots.

You hang out in the middle lane, which is the only legal passing lane for trucks on three-lane highways.

You pass trucks on the right even though they may be trying to turn in that direction and not see you coming.

You don’t keep your vehicle in top-working condition, free of any defects.

If so, think twice before you give someone the finger out on the highway – you may be the one causing the problem. n


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