Safety First

Myrna Chartrand : Myrna was born and raised in Oak Point, Manitoba.
Posted By Myrna Chartrand : Myrna was born and raised in Oak Point, Manitoba. On 2023-07-07 19:51:34

By now, many of you have already heard about the tragic accident in Carberry, Manitoba, on June 15, 2023. It really hit hard for me because I had just crossed through that very same intersection headed east just a few hours before the event occurred.

I always try to be on such high alert when I drive, and I also try to sort of predict what moves other drivers are going to make. As anyone who drives regularly knows, you can often spot when someone is going to cut you off, make an abrupt lane change or maybe brake suddenly in front of you.

As a driver of a vehicle that sits so high off of the ground, sometimes I can see into the windows of vehicles, and you can see them on their phones or distracted in other ways, which puts me on higher alert. There are times when you can see a driver in a passenger vehicle making repeated shoulder checks, and you wonder if they are talking to someone in the back seat or if maybe they are a nervous or cautious driver, hence the multiple shoulder checks. A vehicle whizzing back and forth between lanes is also a cause for concern. So many situations get presented in a day, and you always have to anticipate everyone's next move. I know, that is easier said than done!!

These last couple weeks of driving after that tragic accident have made me extra cautious and probably even more judgemental of others driving. I was travelling down Highway 3/13 from Oakville, MB, towards Winkler, MB, and three separate vehicles made extremely unsafe passing maneuvers. It was to the point that I had to slow down to let them get back into the lane to prevent a collision. I was going the speed limit, so it wasn't like I was poking along, creating a mile-long backup. One of the three vehicles went to pass and quickly pulled back in behind me when they realized they were approaching an oncoming vehicle near an intersection. I looked in my mirrors once I was past the intersection, and they turned left there anyway. I shook my head, thinking, you wanted to cut me off so that you could turn in front of me??

Today, on my way home from Grand Forks, ND, a semi-truck passed another semi-truck on a curve and didn't have enough room to complete the pass safely. Once again, I had to brake and come to a slow roll to allow that driver to get back in their lane without hitting me head-on. Again, I shake my head at all of this!

Even after another tragic event involving drivers, people do not feel the need to drive cautiously, patiently or courteously. It really puts me on edge.

Green Day's song "Basket Case" has words I can relate to these days.

"It all keeps adding up
I think I'm cracking up
Am I just paranoid?"

This is just in Canada within a week that these things happened. Now let's skip to the US, where there's far more traffic, congestion, road rage, on/off ramps, multi-lane interstates etc. It's a little harder to anticipate others' moves when you're surrounded by multiple vehicles, but I still try to do my best.

On more than one occasion, I've had drivers going the wrong way down the interstate headed toward me, but thankfully I was able to pull to the shoulder to avoid any collision. I've had vehicles pass on the shoulder, and I've had motorcycles speed between lanes going at least ten mph over the speed limit and only realize they were there when I hear them zip past me, continuing to weave through the lanes. I can go on and on about all the unsafe or careless drivers out there, but I'm sure many or most of you also encounter this daily.

I had a lady ask me the other day how I liked trucking as she felt maybe it was a career she would like to explore. I told her it's definitely something you have to be passionate about because, from what I see every day, so many drivers think of trucking solely as a paycheque and really could care less about the professionalism and pride that goes along with it. I wish every motorist had the opportunity to ride along in a truck to see what we face every day and the safety and struggles that go along with it.
I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to ride along with my brother before I got my license to get a feel for the industry. I haven't looked back even once since I changed careers over 14 years ago. I wish that as drivers, professional or not, everyone could take a minute to focus and drive safely. It doesn't hurt to take that extra second to double-check that the roadway is safe. I know I get honked at by impatient drivers all the time, but I feel that I, and others, will be able to sleep soundly in bed at night knowing I took the extra step to be cautious. Accidents are always going to happen, and that's why they are called "accidents," but my hope for everyone is to do their best to get home in one piece every night.

My heart shatters whenever I hear of tragic roadway accidents, and my thoughts are always with those involved. Many are taken too soon!

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