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A Quick Survey of Considerate Drivers

Stopping on the shoulder for lunch isn’t something I’d normally do, but after my truck threw its cooling fan into the radiator, I didn’t have much choice. I was stranded beside three lanes of fast moving traffic.

The tractor wasn’t going anywhere unless it was on a hook, but our mobile mechanic was dispatched to assess the damage anyway. With warning triangles dutifully placed behind the truck and four-ways switched on, lunch was served.

As the cab rocked from side to side in the wind blast caused by passing traffic, it occurred to me just how important Ontario’s move over law is for the men and women that have to regularly work on the shoulder. Those brave souls take their life in their hands every time they step out of their vehicle.

According to the Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA Reg.159) on roads with two or more lanes, if there is a stopped emergency vehicle on the shoulder, drivers are required to move over if it is safe to do so.

For emergency vehicles, don’t just think Police, Fire and Ambulance either. The HTA definition also includes public utility emergency vehicles, ministry officials, conservation, fishery, Provincial Park and mine rescue officers. The list goes on. But in short, any government employee, who in the course of their daily duties has to work on the side of the road, is protected.

As this law doesn’t cover drivers of broken down trucks and cars, out of curiosity, I decided to conduct a short survey to see how many passing professionals were courteous and considerate towards a fellow driver.

With pen and paper in hand, I sat and observed vehicles as they came into view in the mirror to see just how many would move over. I didn’t include the drivers who couldn’t change lanes due to traffic volume, or those ‘Kings of the Road’ that insisted on staying in the middle lane.

Even though this research wasn’t exactly scientific, the results of my ten minute survey speak for themselves:

   TRUCK TYPE                                                 MOVED OVER                                      DIDN’T MOVE
Highway tractor trailer                                                     8                                                        2

Day cab tractor trailer                                                      3                                                         4

Straight dump truck                                                         1                                                         10

Regular straight truck                                                      2                                                          4

Bus                                                                                   0                                                           2

You can see from this snapshot that the high milers are generally more considerate than the local drivers; however, the biggest surprise was the school bus and transit bus that were both full of passengers and didn’t move an inch.

It may not be law to move over if you spot a car or truck stopped on the shoulder, but it is definitely safe, courteous and considerate. What if the driver of that stopped vehicle was a friend or family member? Bet you’d want everyone to move over then.

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Blogs Steve Rock Highway Safety Act Ontario Highway 400.

I have a theory about this, look at the types of drivers who moved over for you. The ones who are most likely to break down or have broken down on the side of a highway, just by virtue of the amount of time and miles they spend on the highway were the drivers who moved over to give you additional space. Those who spend minimal amounts of time on highways, such as bus drivers and dump truck drivers who may have never broken down on a highway, have no idea that moving over on the highway passing a broken down vehicle, may be the proper thing to do.

This speaks volumes to the courtesy and defensive driving mind set of drivers on the road. In plain language it does not exist in way too many drivers. These people do not follow proper driving etiquette around merge lanes, move over for emergency vehicles, and many other blatant violations of the drivers's handbook. We won't go down the road with cell phones etc! Maybe our enforcement people need to tag some of these people with a fine to get the point across. Be courteous, drive defensively the life you save could be yours.

I can give you a simple sentence to caption with your findings..." Paid by the hour, minds get narrow"

Most offices just want you to do your job with nothing but results, if something happens then they turn the dogs on your shoulders and turn you loose. Then put up and add looking for the next driver to use. Training was lost back in the 1980's and we just accepted it normal and our highways have become too crowded now and the results of stupid are rampant.