The Ultimate Selfish Driving Act

Truck Tractor and TrailerWhile out for a walk the other afternoon I approached a driver who had stopped in his lane, in a corner, to talk to a couple of pedestrians on the other side of the road. Normally, this is a relatively quiet street but the driver is still making a poor choice. His action was unsafe due to poor sight lines for approaching drivers.

Sure enough, another vehicle approached from behind and was prevented from passing because the pedestrians had moved into the other lane to conduct their conversation more comfortably.

At this point most drivers would conclude the conversation and move on, or at least move to the right side of the road.

Not this driver. He pulled into the oncoming lane at a forty-five degree angle and continued with the chat!

As it happened, I was also walking by a driver waiting beside his parked dump truck and watching this situation too. I shook my head and mentioned to him that there were sure a lot of inconsiderate drivers to be found on our highways these days.

I had definitely touched a raw nerve here as the driver began to tell me all about the dangerous driving situations that he is put into by the drivers of light vehicles every day.

Chief among his worries were those who changed lanes in front of his truck and failed to leave a safe margin for following distance. Worse still, some of these drivers will apply their brakes and slow down for a right turn immediately after moving over. No sense anticipating that turn and falling in behind the truck to safely prepare for it, is there?

Remember the two second rule? It not only applies to vehicles that you are following, it applies to vehicles that are behind you as well. Always leave yourself an out.

Why might this be important? A loaded heavy truck with a properly functioning braking system may have as little as half of the braking capacity of a car or light truck. These drivers may have put our trucker into a situation where he cannot slow or stop in time to avoid a collision.

I suggested that if there was nowhere safe to steer around the offending vehicle the truck driver might be faced with the decision to not to avoid the collision. No, he said, you would likely brake and finding that you could not stop in time automatically steer to avoid the crash.

Now there is little or no risk for our unthinking motorist and most or all of the risk settling onto the shoulders of our truck driver. This could be the ultimate selfish driving act performed by the driver of the light vehicle.

Before you start to complain about commercial drivers, think about the fact that in a collision between a heavy commercial vehicle and a light vehicle it is most likely that the fault lies with the light vehicle driver.

One parting piece of advice: remember the No Zone. This is the space around a heavy commercial vehicle where light vehicles are essentially invisible to the truck driver. Occupy them at your own risk!

More Reading:


The Ultimate "Ghost Car"

I have a few friends who are or were Police officers.  I've often said to them that the ultimate "ghost Car" would be a tractor-trailer rig. Every heavy truck driver has a litany of stories about the idiotic antics of "4-wheelers". But sadly, the quality of commercial drivers is deteriorating too.

DriveSmart, you may be very well versed in the law and certainly have extensive first hand experience attending to and dealing with failures but I suggest that you are deficient in two areas:

You never drove a Class 1 requirement vehicle.

You never rode a motorcycle.

There is nothing like the first hand practical experience of both even though your research is commendable.   "Leave yourself an out" or as I've called it, "Know your escape route" is a life saver. In one of the above instances, you may be at the front end of 140,000 lbs. of kinetic energy and it doesn't slow nor change direction very easily. The other exposes the rider to severe injury risk from even a minor coming together but it is offset by two factors. First, a high degree of manoeuvrability and second, that you need not much more than 2 feet of road as an escape.

Incidentally, I've never yet met a person who, after having taken a Motorcycle Training School course, hasn't remarked, "Wow, has that ever improved my car driving!"


Not condoning the actions of the driver having the chat but thought of this Friday when I was out. Two incidents came up in a short trip to town. First was a motorist that spent considerable time talking to a flag person. Even though they had past a few signs advising that the highway was closed the driver decided to ask the flagger what options were available for a detour. Could easily have gone to the tourist bureau rather than have 13 of us held up and some just wanted to go downtown. Next was another driver doing exactly the same as in this story talking to a person on the sidewalk.

Often the topic revolves around impatient drivers. Or the people that get frustrated because someone is driving slower than what they want to. After pointing out the problems of speeders it invariably comes back to how little time these drivers save and they are just impatient.

So now I want to ask how much difference is the above situation? A person is looking for help and normally it is only a very brief discussion. Are we really in that much of a rush to get to where we are going? Every time speeding is mentioned the time saving is always brought up so waiting for this person to get directions how far behind schedule does this put one? Is this person any more selfish than the person driving below the speed limit or impeding other drivers? I think not. It is just being impatient.

Now as for time savings. I do two types of trips. Locally most trips are under 15 minutes with a trip to the post office or grocery store taking 6 minutes each way. Next is to the nearest community of any size where driving at my usual speed I save an average of 20 minutes and a trip to Vancouver at just 10 over the speed limit saves an hour and 2 hrs if I up to 20. And this is why so many people that live in the hinterlands favour increasing the speed limits. It does save us time.



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