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Living by the motto ‘do no harm’


On the morning of Feb. 4, I learned we lost another driver to a collision with an impaired driver along the Hwy. 401 corridor. The driver’s name is Lindsay A. Findlay, of Arnprior, Ont. My first reaction was anger.

Anger at the drunk driver. Anger that this was totally preventable. Anger that so many people still don’t get it when it comes to drinking and driving.

That anger was alive in the commentary on various trucking Facebook groups. The general reaction was that we need harsher punishment in our system for drinking and driving and that we need to clamp down and have the judiciary pass longer sentences on individuals that drink and drive.

This was also how I reacted to my feelings of anger. I felt someone had to pay for such a senseless loss. I was filled with that sense of retribution.

After a short time my thoughts turned to the family that Lindsay had left behind. All I knew in the moment was that Lindsay was 51 and hailed from the area of Arnprior, Ont.

I had never met Lindsay but I could see myself in him and I found myself thinking about how my family would handle my loss if it occurred in the blink of an eye, unplanned, unlooked for, unexpected and seemingly pointless because it was caused by an individual who never should have been in that place at that time.

How would my wife of 36 years come to terms with that? The following day I watched an interview conducted by Global News with Lindsay’s wife and daughter. I started viewing it with a lump in my throat and had tears on my cheeks by the time I reached the end.

The shock on their faces and in their voices as they struggled to come to terms with this sudden loss of their husband and father moved me deeply.

I also have a wife and one daughter. His daughter, Brittany, spoke of not having the opportunity to walk down the aisle with her Dad at her upcoming wedding. Just a few short years ago when I was Lindsay’s age, I did have that privilege. His wife, Sandy, spoke of how they talked on the phone every day and had been discussing just how dangerous the roads were becoming of late. This interview sounded like a carbon copy of my life.

This could have been my family. I had never been touched by emotions this deep as a result of an incident involving someone I had never met, yet was a kindred spirit in so many ways.

This is what I want my wife and daughter to know about what happens in my cab on a minute by minute basis every hour of every day when I am put in harm’s way as a result of actions that occur outside my realm of control.

I do my very best to live by the motto of “do no harm.” I don’t believe there are any reputable truck drivers out there that are sitting on top of 40 tonnes of rolling steel not conscious of the fact that they have a responsibility to other road users to do no harm.

This is exactly why we hear so many stories over the course of our driving careers of other drivers paying the ultimate price as a result of the stupidity, ignorance, and selfishness of others on the road. I don’t know what happened leading up to the exact moment when that Jeep lost control and careened in front of Lindsay Findlay’s truck that night. But what I can say with a good degree of certainty is that Lindsay had no idea that there may have been an impaired driver at the wheel.

It could have been an elderly person suffering a heart attack, or anyone suffering from some type of medical emergency that caused them to lose consciousness.

It could have been a mother with her children and the vehicle may have had a mechanical default of some type.

In the moment, as truck drivers, we don’t have the time to consider such things. We simply need to prevent rolling our heavy rigs over another vehicle filled with people we always assume are innocent of any wrongdoing, because that is our only option.

We choose to do no harm. That’s our only choice at the time. Lindsay Findlay’s actions were heroic that night. Nothing less.

He lost his life in his attempt to prevent harm coming to another human being. He did not know who was in that Jeep or what the circumstances were that caused it to lose control and slide in front of him. Let’s not ever forget that. All the anger in the world is not going to solve the problem of people driving drunk. Perhaps sharing stories like that of Lindsay and his family will. I can only hope.

***

Al Goodhall has been a professional long-haul driver since 1998. He shares his experiences via his ‘Over the Road’ blog at http://truckingacrosscanada.blogspot.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @Al_Goodhall.


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