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BLOG: A Question of Etiquette

I was pretty lucky when i was a boy and able to make trips with my daddy and grand daddy, and their friends. If you know anything about old truckers, you know that they have the gift for GAB. And they naturally love to share what they know with anyone who has the patience to listen — even if you don't.

But boy did i listen. When you're a young impressionable kid and get to be in a big rig with the roar of the big diesel, the smell of grease and oil, the sound of the air brakes and the air horn, it all makes a big impression. This was in the day when trucks carried a spare tire on a rack, a jack and a wheel wrench. (Very few drivers hadn't changed one of those monsters in the snow or rain some where along the road at least once.) When i was finally able to get my CDL at 18 , I already had a pretty good grasp on what trucking was all about but had a lot of learning to do.

At that time, trucking was done by proud, honorable men (there were some women as well at that time, but they were few.) Employer's had loyalty to their drivers and the drivers returned that loyalty to them. There was a lot of respect to go around.

In fact, if one of the old timers saw any disrespect from me to another driver, mechanic, dockhand or supervisor, they would quickly straighten me out with a quick boot in the ass. They led by example, and held me to the same example.

It was a day when you would never pass and not stop behind a broken down vehicle on the highway, especially another big truck because someone could always use a hand, need a tool, or anti-freeze or oil or whatever. You were glad if you could be of help. And you knew if you broke down, it wouldn't be long before another truck would come along to help you out as well. It was respect and etiquette.

Now then, if a may share just one item of etiquette that I hope you can put into practice and let rub off on those drivers that you may mentor in the future.

Here's the scenario: you're travelling at your chosen road speed down a ribbon of two lane highway. You do one of your mirror checks and you notice a big rig in your mirror. Your first thought should be: looks like this big rigger is travelling faster than i am, and may want to pass me.

Now what do you do?

Nothing!

Not yet, anyway. Keep going at the speed you were going. The driver behind you has already sized up the situation and decided to either follow you at your speed or will pick a safe spot on the highway to pass you.

If he decides to follow you at your speed, he will likely hang back a few truck lengths and that's the last thought you need to have on the matter.

If he decides to pass, this is when you should make the choice to be courteous to your fellow driver: DO NOT SPEED UP. Let him pass — in fact, ideally, if it's safe to do so, slow down a wee bit so the other driver is not left hanging out there in the oncoming lane for an unsafe amount of time. He's driving a big truck too, just like you, and we don't want any accidents!

The same thing applies on the three lane passing lane areas. If you are being followed by a long line of cars and other trucks because you are loaded heavy or are travelling slower than the other traffic, then DO NOT SPEED UP when you reach the passing lane. Be courteous, let the faster vehicles pass, and just ease up a bit if you can.

Don't be shy to show the rest of the travelling world that you are a proud and honorable truck driver.

It's simple etiquette.

Filed Under: Spot Canuck Blogs Driving etiquette Passing lanes.
 
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Anonymous

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nice story and good point. Personally I am tired of everything being blamed on speed limiters and the government. As the one comment said if your truck has a speed limiter and someone is passing you, why can't you slow down a bit to let the person pass safely? Why do we have these "turtle races"? In fact there is a laws that says "yield to overtaking vehicles", maybe the police should go back to basics and start enforcing the laws on the books. Now a days when you are broke down on the highway, you are lucky if you do not get hit let alone someone stopping to help. Even the simple act of moving over is too much for some drivers. The simple fact is with speed limiters EOBS, public opinion, public perception, Government, we have no one to blame but ourselves, our inability to stand together and help each other and stand with a united voice, our lack of interest to take action until it is too late, and our lack of professionalism has created all these problems. The person to blame and the person that can fix these and future problems are the same, that person is staring back at you in the mirror.

RP

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The days of road etiquete were based on road smarts. Without speed limiters it was fairly easy to judge when you could pass. Now you just don't know, you can only get your truck to go so fast and a slight terrain change during a pass changes everything, especially if the person you're passing is on cruise control. This in my opinion is what has prompted trucks to just stay in the centre lane. MTO tells us that accident stats are down since speed limiters were introduced, but it sure is a lot scarier than it used to be. Government mandated safety devices (speed limiters, antilock brakes, air bags, etc.) have made us lazy and unsafe because we start to trust that they will actually keep us safe (not). Driving skill has gone downhill because of this. Courtesy went out the window a long time ago with the me first attitude of the current generation of drivers.

Lew

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I'm not a truck driver but drive in excess of 120 miles a day to and from work. Etiquette and courtesy sure go a long way and if more folks could understand the concept we would all be better off. Cheers to the Pros. Don't ever give up being courteous because then the bad guys win!

Senior

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I carried an ACZ licence for over 33 years in law enforcement and saw the problems from both sides of the fence. I always appreciated and used the flick of high beams to let the passing vehicle know they were clear to pull back in. You usually got a flick of markers to say thanks. Whatever happened to that simple courtesy? I still do it for all vehicles and quite often get a hand wave from 4 wheelers as well as a reply from a very small number of truckers. Unfortunately, the "ME ONLY' attitude seems to have taken over on our highways today.

Anonymous

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I don't drive a big truck anymore, I'm still in the industry,just another part of it and I believe the respect we had for each other is gone. Like everyone else on the road the drivers of today are only in it for themselves. This new? practice of running in the center lane at all times is a prime example,in Ontario you are governed at 105 which makes you the slowest vehicles out there,why the center lane? Also the Burlington Skyway is a prime place to see selfish drivers,why are trucks 3 wide when no one is passing anyone? Niagara bound there are 4 lanes for quite a stretch after the bridge so moving to the far right lane will still leave lots of time to move back in before that lane drops off.I understand why trucks don't want to get in that lane Toronto bound but if you are going to crest the bridge at 50-60k you should be getting over. As a four wheeler now I do my best to help the truck drivers any way I can out there but some don't even help themselves.

Shawn Hubbard

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This is great advice for all drivers. I even go a step further; when I see its clear, I give the passing driver a couple of blinks on my left turn signal to let hm or her know that I'm aware they want to pass and it's clear to go.

FBC

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Sames goes for all vehicles. With cruise on I often come up to a car and pass only to end up coasting along in the cars blind spot and have to give it some gas to get past.

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