Do you feel safe pulling over to help fellow motorists?

by Adam Ledlow

BOWMANVILLE, Ont. -The evolution of Good Samaritanism may have taken a giant step backwards recently, after a trucker was severely beaten after stopping to help a fellow motorist.

Alex Fraser of Monarch Transport says he was assaulted by three men on the side of Yellowhead Highway just north of Blue River, B.C. on Sept. 24, leaving the 67-year-old in need of reconstructive surgery and ultimately prompting him to quit the industry altogether. While seemingly unprovoked attacks of this nature are rare, it does bring up the topic of trucker safety on the road. Will the fate of Fraser deter other truckers from lending a hand to strangers? And what precautions are drivers taking to protect themselves on the road? Truck News went to the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Bowmanville, Ont. to find out.

Jack Snider, a driver with Canada Cartage out of Scarborough, Ont., says that unfortunately, in most cases, drivers should not be pulling over because of liability issues.

“You really should not be pulling over to help anyone, unfortunately, because of the insurance problems that are created through doing something like that. If an incident happens, not like this particular incident, but a collision, then you have got a big problem.”

Snider notes that it’s important for drivers to listen to their gut – even when there’s a harmless journalist involved.

“Awareness of your surroundings and what is around you (is important). Even as you approached I looked at you very carefully. You’re well-dressed, so I know you’re not a hobo, but you just never know these days with the things that are going on. You have got to be aware at all times.”

Dan Rundle, a Hamilton, Ont.- based owner/operator, says that despite hearing Fraser’s story, he wouldn’t be any less likely to help someone out.

“He was at the wrong spot at the wrong time, I guess,” Rundle said of Fraser’s incident. “You have got to always protect yourself. I guess it depends on the situation. I wouldn’t stop for just anybody, but if they are flagging me down, I would see what they want. I would not get out first. Just keep your head on your shoulders and pay attention at all times.”

Ken Conley, an owner/operator with Westcon Movers out of Toronto, says he doesn’t make a habit of pulling over to help because of the possibility of being issued a ticket.

“I had a guy with me and we stopped in Wisconsin in the middle of nowhere and the highway was big enough, and I got a $150 ticket. It was an Interstate, but there was no-one around,” he told Truck News. “Plus you read on the news every day -three guys in Barrie last week got out of a car and got run over, so I’m not really inclined to stop.”

But with Fraser’s case in particular, Conley admits that something seems fishy to him. “(Fraser) probably has a past. People do not just stop and beat people up for the hell of it. He probably did something that he is not telling you. The possibility of that happening is almost nil. Why would anybody do that?”

Phil Bradley, a driver with Arpin Van Lines of West Ford, R.I., is fairly black and white with his advice to truckers about pulling over to help others, especially when in the US: “Do not pull over because you are liable to get knifed, shot, killed, stabbed, raped, pillaged, or plundered. The odds are good, so you stop further down the road and use your cell phone to call for them. Do not let them into your truck. They will murder you for your running shoes. You just don’t do it. Everybody has got satellite tracking devices and cell phones. There is no reason to stop unless it’s somebody you know. It’s just not safe.”

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