Why you should pass semi trucks

As a port city, Vancouver shares the requisite truck traffic with outlying areas. Like other cities in Canada, drivers put up with a lot of big trucks. Ontario’s 401 drivers are surrounded by them.

In Vancouver, the Vanterm and Deltaport shipping yards, located at the north and south ends of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, handle 70 per cent of the containers that come through Port Metro Vancouver. Construction is underway to alleviate some of the resulting truck traffic, but even then, roads will remain populated with the vehicular by-products of our shipping industry.

Last summer, I touched on driving habits to avoid when sharing the road with a semi truck: driving in a truck’s blind spot, cutting a semi off and trying to squeak by in the curb lane when a truck is lining up for a right hand turn are all ways to cause a collision.

What I failed to mention was the hesitation many drivers have when it comes time to legally and properly pass a semi truck on a highway or major road.

Typically, the indecisive driver floats behind and often directly beside the truck and does not make the move to pass. Not only does this place the smaller vehicle in the semi truck’s blind spot, it increases the likelihood of a collision.

Knight Street is a main north/south trucking route through Vancouver and is almost always congested. It is common to have three rigs lined up side by side and effectively blocking all lanes of traffic, particularly on an incline.

As such, I stay off Knight Street whenever I can, as my frustration level goes through the roof when faced with inconsiderate truckers. It bothers me more when the drivers in question are supposed to be professional and it is worse when their vehicles are huge, hard to miss and slow to get going.

What’s even more frustrating is when a passenger car is in the lane beside a big rig and refuses to pass, even when said big rig is labouring up a hill at 10 kilometres an hour.

The problem is compounded when it’s raining; semi trucks create a large back spray, and without fail there is always someone who will not drive through it. Instead, they doggedly stay behind/beside the truck, awash in dirty grey water, not realizing that if they complete the pass, road visibility will improve.

I’m not suggesting drivers go barrelling through the spray if the road ahead is not visible, but even in the worst rain, you should be able to see the road (if you look for it).

Just don’t continue to drive in the spray. Back off, change lanes or pass the truck. Pretty much anything is better than immersing yourself and your car in a veritable water-world.

Staying out of a truck’s blind spot and driving in a predictable manner by using your turn signals and making smooth lane changes and transitions all count toward safer roads. Yes, semi trucks can be intimidating and yes, some truck drivers have no courtesy, but there is a time and a place to make the pass. So please do it.

Vancouver police Const. Sandra Glendinning blogs at behindtheblueline.ca. Her opinions aren’t necessarily those of the city’s police department or board.

Photograph by: Ward Perrin, Vancouver Sun