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Dealing with three types of summer drivers

I was lucky enough to spend Canada Day in downtown Vancouver. I was hauling the sound system for part of the celebrations. During the unloading process I was parked right in the middle of things, where thousands of people were milling around...


I was lucky enough to spend Canada Day in downtown Vancouver. I was hauling the sound system for part of the celebrations. During the unloading process I was parked right in the middle of things, where thousands of people were milling around and taking in the sights.

My truck was looking pretty sharp, thanks to a large portion of elbow grease with a side order of sweat and I had many an admiring glance from passersby. Quite a lot of people stopped to pass the time of day and ask questions about the truck, where I had come from and what I was hauling. Some of those were hoping that the name on the side of the truck meant an appearance by the singer who shares that name. In this case that wasn’t to be, but I still got a lot of attention.

That attention was all good; people asked how it was driving through the mountains and generally made positive comments about the truck. This wasn’t a unique experience; when touring with the aforementioned singer, I was often parked center stage outside of the venues and people were always coming along to visit and talk about the truck, where we were coming from, where we were going and how the drive had been.

All in all, meeting the public is a pleasant experience – that is until they get behind the wheel of a car. Then the game changes and not in a good way. Some are just plain ignorant of the results of their actions, but even worse are the ones that know what they’re doing but just don’t care. Leaving downtown, I was cut off more times than I care to remember long before I got out on TC1.

Some of these drivers were visiting with me earlier, yet now that they had a steering wheel in their hands, I was public enemy number one.

The summer season is the worst time for this, especially along the more scenic routes. Now I understand that people are on vacation, but some of the behaviour we witness out on the roads leaves me puzzled. How can it be enjoyable to drive, or be a passenger in a vehicle, that is being driven as if on a qualifying lap for the Montreal Grand Prix?

These drivers seem to be convinced it is a slur on their manliness to be behind a big truck. The fact that they’re going around a blind curve is irrelevant; they must be in front at all costs.

Then we have the ones that are oblivious to everyone around them. They’re sightseeing and nothing else matters, they are going to drive at 20 km/h under the speed limit so they don’t miss anything and that is that. You see them driving along with a huge line of traffic behind them and some, like the ones I described above, will do anything they can to get around them, regardless of whether or not it is safe to do so.

Worst of all though, in my opinion, are the ones that combine those two elements. On the two-lane roads, they amble along without a care in the world, braking for the slightest curve and getting in everyone’s way, but as soon as the road opens up a little, it’s as if the checkered flag has dropped, they’re off like a scalded cat until the road narrows again and there are they are, just waiting to hold you up again.

As professional drivers we have to deal with these people on a daily basis and it can be frustrating, to say the least. You learn to recognize which group the drivers around you belong to and drive accordingly. The best way to deal with the lunatics is to just let them go, so they don’t do anything stupid around you.

The ones that amble along without a care in the world are easy. We know the roads, we know where the passing lanes are, so just hang back until the opportunity to pass comes along and soon they’re just a distant memory.

The third group is the one that is most difficult to deal with. Sure, you can outthink them and get around before they have a chance to floor it on an open section, but then you’re in danger of being in the first group yourself. You can just follow along getting more and more frustrated with every mile you drive, or you can just pull off at the first opportunity and have five minutes to yourself, maybe do a quick circle check, clean your windows, mirrors or lights or take a bathroom break. By the time you’re done, they’ll be a good way ahead of you.

As I found out in Vancouver, these people are decent folk, but they change when they get behind the wheel. Most of it is due to a complete lack of driving education, some of it is due to attitude, but whatever the case, it is what it is, we have to deal with it.

On another note, back-up alarms, really? Who on earth thought it would be a good idea for them to make the same sound as an alarm clock? And why are they fitted to trucks with drivers that need 20 shunts to back into a space? And why oh why do they always have to try and back in next to me whilst I’m trying to sleep? But that’s a topic for another day.


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