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Behind-the-Wheel

Ultimate selfish driving act

While 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 45 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.

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/commercial-vehicles/ultimate-selfish-driving-act

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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