The Not-So-Professional Driver

Truck Tractor and TrailerI'm one of those odd drivers who tries their best to drive at or below the posted speed limit. I include the word below here as sometimes there is a need to slow down to less than the posted speed limit for safety reasons. This often has consequences for me when I have to share the road with other drivers who do not subscribe to my philosophy on road safety. A good example of this is looking in my rear view mirror and finding the Volvo logo on the grille of a heavy transport truck following me closely enough that I could count the bugs stuck to it.

This incident occurred on the Trans Canada Highway westbound between the Alberta border and Golden on a relatively long and steep downgrade while I was returning home from a family wedding in Banff. Road conditions were not the greatest as the winter damage had been done and road maintenance had not yet caught up. The shoulders were gravel covered, the lane markings were poor or non-existent and the road surface itself was uneven in places.

My preferred solution to this is to simply pull over and let the offender by. Better to inconvenience myself than to become involved in a collision. In this case, I had to wait to find a good place to do this and sweat out having that Volvo logo looming large behind me. The truck passed me before I was able to do so, but I was able to read the company name off the door of the truck cab.

If you are not content to just shrug your shoulders and mutter something about the driver's ancestry under your breath, what can be done about incidents like this one?

Google is your friend. Most trucking firms today have a web site with contact information on it that you can use to telephone or send e-mail. A company that cares will listen to your side of the story, speak to their driver about it and take action that is fair and in their best interest. Repeated complaints about the same driver could result in dismissal.

Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE) will accept complaints about commercial vehicle driving. Your complaint will be directed to the regional CVSE manager where the incident occurred. The manager has two options open to them, contacting the company and advising CVSE personnel in the region to keep the company in mind. This may have more weight than your personal complaint to the company as a clean National Safety Code record is important to a reputable trucking firm.

The police can take enforcement action based solely on your complaint if it is a credible one and likely to result in a conviction in traffic court. Take a look at the article on how to make an effective driving complaint to the police for more information. Like CVSE, the police are going to need either the licence plate information or company name on the truck itself. The licence plate information from the trailer is helpful, but much less useful for follow up.

The biggest hurdle with enforcement action is that you will be required to travel back to the jurisdiction of the incident to supply witness testimony if the ticket is disputed. The courts will not cover your travel expenses so it will be up to you to foot the bill.

Changes are on the horizon. When traffic court is replaced with adjudication by RoadSafetyBC witness information could be supplied in writing or by teleconference. Phase one of the two stage change process is currently under way and that is the implementation of electronic ticketing and fine payment. When that is completed, the shift to adjudication will occur, but there is no time line information available for that change. Enabling provisions for the system were added to the Motor Vehicle Act in 2012.

I agree with most of this and am a similar driver. I also, on occasions, drive a 5 ton commercial vehicle, so CVSE rules apply and I get to enjoy the other view. I am also the boss, who receives the complaints.

The short version is, the public (in general) are not particularly attentive drivers and do not make allowances for commercial vehicles, and then get quite irate when they have a scare. Guess what, a truck is a big billboard with phone numbers all over, let's phone them up (frequently as they are still driving) and get the driver fired.

Having them call CVSE or the Police, is tantamount to saying guilty until proven innocent.

I witness more bad driving in rush hour traffic by regular drivers than I witness bad driving by commercial drivers. Bad commercial drivers exist, and I have reported some myself. Usually the best way with commercial or otherwise is to pull over and let them go - more people choose to fight instead.

Years ago I was driving a commercial service van, it's winter, typical roads, and snowing and I am heading north for work. My boss gets a phone call berating my driving, telling him I am a hazard on the road, I'm driving too slow, I'm going to cause an accident, blah, blah, blah. Thankfully my boss knows my driving and asks a few questions, one of which is "What's the speed limit?" Next question is, "And what speed is my driver going at?" As soon as he admitted I was driving dead on the speed limit, the conversation ended. Unfortunately, this is typical of complaints.

Yes, we do take complaints seriously, and my drivers get spoken to immediately. I have told them that I don't care if they are right and the other person is wrong, you had better be the one driving properly and backing off if anything silly is going on, because if it is the other way round then you might be out the door.

In my personal vehicles I have 2 dash cams, one facing forward and one facing back, one main reason is to catch tailgating semi's or large commercial vehicles. I make a note of the time and location, company name, trailer number (s) & plate #, that way I can contact the company and offer to send video evidence against that driver. I also get lucky sometimes and have a close by scale open, in which case I also stop in to report this driver as I am a semi driver myself and tell the CVSE Officers I have video & will be contacting the employer. Every time I have done this so far the CVSE Officers get on the phone right away and contact the next scale to pull in that truck if it goes that far and through the next scale, they do seem to take their job very seriously I find and are more than willing to help keep our roads safer.

There are way too many "supposed" profesional drivers out there that tailgate for no reason what so ever, and if something was to happen a smaller motor vehicle stands an almost zero chance of survival against a semi, even if it's empty never mind loaded, Physics will win every time.

In reply to by Class1 Driver (not verified)

Dashcams are something I think every vehicle will end up with eventually, and sometimes just a finger pointed at one's dashcam is all that is needed to get another driver behaving!

Once people know they are being recorded, they usually change their behaviour.

Likewise, drivers may drive better if they know that the video in their vehicle can be used against them.

Often it is hard to read the licence plate. What I look for is the vehicle number. Most companies have a number on the side of all their units. Company name and unit number and also look to see if the trailer has a 1-800 number to report bad driving.

I do think you are being a little picky:) The TC in general is in better shape than most springs.

As for the line markings there has to be a better paint that will last longer. Often by time we head into the winter months the markings are all but invisible which makes winter driving such a challenge.

And with the line markings one question I would like answered does anyone know how these self driving cars detect which lane they are suppose to be in? I would say that over half the year in the interior of the province a vast majority of the markings are gone. How will these cars know where to position themselves? Is there a possibility they could get confused and end up driving in the wrong lane?

For our moderator having just driven this section of highway how do you think a self driving car would make out through the Kicking Horse Canyon or Rogers Pass?


This person seems to take the "I have a higher moral authority" approach to a some very serious problems. The first is that people don't know how to drive around or with big trucks. This writer obviously has no clue about how heavy the load is that is pushing these trucks down hill and it is just plain stupid to get in the way. Brakes can fail and if they do, all too often it is the truck driver that dies because of some person who believes that they have the moral authority to determine what goes on on the road. This person also fails to realize that if you are travelling below the speed limit (I am going to have to assume that he does this not only when conditions merit based on the rest of his dribble), a build up of traffic occurs behind you and the impatient people take chances a lot of times ending up in head on collisions. And "Mr. I drive below the speed limit" travels merrily on when, in fact he was the cause. Yes people need to be aware of the rules, but it goes both ways, this type of behavior is just as dangerous as speeding and weaving in and out of traffic.

I'm always surprised at what some readers take away from what I write. I try my best to be clear, but apparently I did not succeed for you.

I'm well aware of what heavy trucks can and cannot do on hills. That is why I was concerned when I found one that close to my back bumper while I was trying to keep my speed down to the speed limit on the down hill. I honestly don't believe that a safety conscious professional driver would behave like this. Drivers that do things like this might be the ones that thump the tires and never look under the truck at a mandatory brake check. They might also do their entire pre-trip from the driver's seat as well. This is why I do my best to find a good spot and get out of the way.

If I think that road conditions are poor and slow down because of it, chances are good that others should be considering taking the same action. Again, when they don't, I get out of the way when I can. This is perfectly acceptable behaviour within the law.

This comment is a concern:

Brakes can fail and if they do, all too often it is the truck driver that dies.

On a properly maintained vehicle, with the brakes correctly adjusted, there is no good reason for them to fail. Period.

Every Class 1 driver must know this, and accept the responsibility; those who don't sometimes take others with them when they die ... and that's sad - and unforgiveable when it's so preventable.

ICBC don’t care how people drive if they did they would have better policing on the road you can drive 2 days and not see a cop on the road there is big money in accidents if drivers were made to drive to conditions and a bit of respect for others insurance would be half the price it is today β€˜ A cop could make the price of a new car just catching people going through the red lights on these  advanced flashing lights at intersections instead of slowing down when you see them flashing they know the light is going to change so they speed up so if you get hit you really get hit I understand some places have removed the lights for that reason why not check for speeders over 2 or 3 hundred kilometer distance to see how fast they really drive hope someone gives this some thought before we are all involved in accidents that is not our fault and paying for stupid drivers I have drove 18 wheelers too and I SHOULD NOT have to be out on the road and have to  be fighting for my life to stay alive

I want to tell you of a strange and disconcerting response I got when I followed up (as you suggest as one approach) on a dangerous driving incident by a semi a couple of years back.

My wife and I were travelling by SUV back from Calgary at nite, in winter, on HW1 within the Yoho National Park. I was doing the Park's posted speed limit of 90 kph. A semi came up real fast from behind and sat right behind. I knew I had a passing lane coming up within a km or 2 so waited concernedly for this to appear. Meantime the semi attempted to pass us on the right thinking he had a passing lane - this in fact was a pull out lane to part of the park. We now had a massive semi thundering immed on our right. He saw his error just in time and pulled back but almost totalled us with this manoeuvre. The passing lane came up and of course he passed at speed - I was able to get some ID off his truck. He was forced to stop at a compulsory truck stop before heading down into the Kicking Horse canyon section of HW1 and I was able to get more info from the vehicle. We were very shaken by this incident.

Next day I phoned the truck company and spoke to the manager (east Indian) to report this incident. Next (and this is was extremely odd) he put the driver on the phone - this driver proceeded to tell me, apart from a few other thoughts, that I was travelling too slow as the speed limit was 110 according to him. I advised him the speed limit within the park is 90 which apparently was news to him. I have to admit I was quite flabbergasted that I was made to speak to the driver at fault and to defend myself against his deadly moves. This was hardly a professional approach.

I did speak to the RCMP about this incident but learned that I would have to appear in court if I pursued a charge ( as I recall) and at that stage I let the matter drop.

Approaching the trucking company can have unanticipated results, depending on who is running the show.

... but why don't you identify the trucking company? There may well be others who have suffered from the behaviour of their drivers.