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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Near Miss on the Highway - Was it Preventable? You Decide!
Today’s Trucking editor Peter Carter from north of the border had a near miss last week and lived to tell about it below. Read his account of what happened and the comments that follow. Some good points made! What would your advice be? Link to the original article follows.

Driver Question Time at Pete's Blog & Grille
By Peter Carter, Posted: Jun 5, 2012 03:52 PM | Last Updated: Jun 7, 2012 01:29 PM
Last week Today’s Trucking came really close to needing a new editor.
I very seldom care about close calls but something happened on the 401 that really made me reflect on that old “all accidents are avoidable.”
Please.  Anyone. What could I have done to avoid this one?
I was westbound on the 401, in the furthest right of three lanes.  It was about 8:30 a.m. and raining.  Drizzling, really.
Traffic was heavy but moving along fine.
Driving just under the speed limit, I switched lanes to pass a slower SUV and seconds after I made the move, a white Freightliner loomed up into my rear view mirror.
So he was in my mirror and getting closer, goodness knows why; the SUV was to my right. There was another red car to my left. His right rear fender was parallel to my left front.
The truck got closer; I signaled to move back right, checked my blind spot, but that car was still beside me.
Suddenly, I noticed the car to the left changing into my lane.  He hadn’t checked his blind spot and his right rear fender was parallel to my left front tire. Signal on, he started moving over. Unless I did something, I would have hit him and a multi-vehicle crash would  have ensured, no question; probably with a fatality.
I touched my brakes to let the truck driver know and, thankfully, he swerved into the far left lane where he didn’t technically belong. He also put the hammer down and flew away from the near miss, for obvious reasons.
He should not have been up my tail like that on a rainy day.
Anyway, I’m not  here to complain or gripe.  I seldom let other people’s driving get to me.
Life for most of us is one near miss after another.
All I’d like to know is how could I have done something differently to avoid that incident.
Sure beats me. All suggestions welcome.

at 8:17 AM
My only suggestion is that if you were following the old rule of 1 vehicle length for every 10kph, then you might have been able to avoid riding up on the SUV. Driving in rush hour, especially in the conditions you described that rule definitely applies. That would have given you more time to determine the best plan of action. Besides if you drive up and down or around the big road especially across T.O you should know what the truck traffic is like. There are a lot of professionals on the road, but more that aren't. The non professionals have their foot into it, and a frame of mind I could never figure out. Just my opinion.
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at 7:05 PM
I think, as a truck driver who has found himself in similar situations with cars in front of me, I would like to think, whenever I see vehicles side by side three abreast on a major roadway that it is a situation that should immediately raise alarm bells, I would have recognized the inherent danger that traffic pattern could cause, and I would slow down, not knowing what the experience level or the give a f--k level of the vehicles ahead of me. It was of course the morning rush hour in the area, and truckers, if we have to be on the road at those times of increased risk, should have a heightened awareness of the traffic around us, and be willing to give space and room around us. Many drivers who are commuting aren't aware, nor able to recognize these high risk situations, and the truck driver should have. Whenever someone recognizes that they have no 'escape route' from a driving situation there should be enough room, at the very least, for them to slow down and remove themselves from the high risk situation they are in, without having to worry about being run over by a 'professional' driver.
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at 7:41 PM
Thanks for the feeback. And to the question was it necessary to pass the SUV, the answer is no. It wasn't. I would have arrived where I was headed on time regardless. Guilty as charged. And I also agree that the horn is underused. I realize in some countries, sounding a car horn is not a sign of aggression, but sometimes, in North America, I've found that people react with "WHAT RIGHT DO YOU HAVE TO HONK AT ME?" Which is crazy. I loathe the idea of touching my brakes on an interstate, and I'm sure I could have handled the situation better but that's why I put it out there. Peter
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at 5:36 PM
Was it necessary to pass the SUV? This doesn't seem to be the case because you stated that traffic was flowing well. Before making a lane change to pass another vehicle, a motorist should always check their mirrors, blind spots and look far enough ahead and behind to determine if there are any obstacles. I can think of two reasons for motorists not checking their mirrors. First, they are driving too fast for the conditions and approach another vehicle quicker than expected. Second, they are tailgating (following too closely) and become impatient (aggressive) and attempt to cut over a lane to get around a vehicle that is impeding their progression of travel. It is entirely possible that you were traveling approximately 90 km/hr and the truck was traveling 140 km/hr (not uncommon on that highway from my experience, except it is generally the four wheelers speeding)and appeared in your mirrors rather quickly. At this point you're in the middle lane with the intent to pass the SUV and at this time you see a car on your left that appears to be trying to merge into your lane. Tapping the brake is really a mistake. In the U.S., new drivers are taught not to use their brakes on the interstate except for obvious reasons as slowed or stopped traffic. Drivers should always recognize which reaction is safer: braking or accelerating. In this case accelerating would have been more appropriate as you were passing another vehicle, followed by properly merging back into the slow lane. However, the vehicle to your left may still not have seen you and this is a clear example as to a time when you are supposed to use your horn. Specifically, the horn is used to warn another driver of an impending collision. This scenario happens everyday on the interstates and any given truck driver has seen it numerous times. I'm unaware if you were in a commercial vehicle, but I wonder why you were surprised by a semi truck coming up behind you? In any case, be safe and adjust speed to driving conditions: weather, traffic, etc.
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at 5:25 PM
Sounds like you did the right thing,glad the truck driver was paying attention and took the High road.I see things like this all the time and it makes you wonder how some people make it home at night.
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at 4:33 PM
Sounds like you did a good job. Once the car on your left started to move over, I would have given him a salute with the horn, but that is about all. Be safe out there.

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1 comment:

  1. We can all put in our own speculations here, but when it comes down to it there is no by the book out on the highways most times. You can give all the advice you want, though it changes nothing. You did what you thought was right, and you made it safely.
    I try to leave gaps but no sooner that gap opens, here comes a 4 wheeler or supper trucker to fill it in. Even slowing down at times can be the worse thing you can do. It is a damn if you do and damn if you don't situation at time. Be safe, remember. Never drive faster than your Guardian Angle can fly.
    just me..