for British Columbia, Canada
(Humorous short story – some of you may relate even. As the date says, this was written while I still drove for Coca Cola, something to entertain fellow drivers. Some thought it was funny, some didn’t get it and wanted an official copy from ICBC – the provincial ministry in charge of drivers’ licenses)
You have graduated from Professional Driving T-18. Congratulations. The following is intended to help you make sense of all that you have studied and practiced in the last 6 months. There is no extra charge for this information but we would encourage you all to read through these following pages and think about it. This information, while not an official part of the course, was collated from interviews with long-time professional drivers who, upon retiring, wanted to share some of their observations.
This section is called “Moving Obstacles.”
The road is your friend. When out on the road, remember to look at the road. It will always try to tell you what to expect as you travel along it. However, the road is not a free entity. Before you got on it, there were already other things moving on it. We call these things “moving obstacles.” They will resemble vehicles, for the most part, but sometimes will also resemble human beings or animals. Do not let that fool you. They are just moving obstacles.
Moving obstacles will be found ahead of you, behind you, coming at you from side roads or simply wandering along with no fixed destination. Some will be faster, some slower and some will be immobile. Do not let any of that disturb you. If a moving obstacle is in front of you, do not get too close. You can never know what it will do next. Moving obstacles do not, as a general rule, obey any known (or de-listed) traffic laws. Remember that these MO’s (as we shall so designate them) do not possess any intelligence or common sense. When interacting with them, you are entirely on your own. Do not assume anything. It is very important to note that MO’s and their cargo are incapable of understanding that road laws apply to them.
Let us give you some examples of what we are talking about.
If there is a double yellow line and an MO is stuck on your tail, do not speed up or slow down. Ignore it. Chances are it will suddenly veer to your left and attempt to zoom past you. That is normal. Let it go. Sometimes you will observe a strange movement of the hand coming from what is referred to as “the driver” – a human-like object sitting prone directly behind the steering wheel of the MO. The hand jerks up and a middle finger tends to spring up and remain stuck in an upright position. That is perfectly OK. This condition is common but not life-threatening. The human-like object can still function with its other hand – which will probably be occupied holding a small black or shiny grey object called a cell phone to the ear. All is fine. The MO is designed to handle such situations for short periods on straight roadways. Hold back and let it go. It may swerve back in its intended lane ahead of you, or if the road suddenly curves, may disappear off the road or crash into another MO. That’s totally normal. Remember students, you are not getting involved. Just keep watching the road. You have a schedule to keep.
How to reason MO encounters.
We would instruct you to think of MO’s this way: Think of walking along the side of an unstable mountain. Suddenly you hear a rumble above you. You look up and see rocks begin to tumble down towards you. Using common sense, you will instantly know that such loose rocks will generally obey some simple rules of physics. They will tumble downhill towards you depending upon their shape and size, the make-up of their path, the pitch of the hill and force of gravity. You already know that stopping and screaming at them will make no difference. Running at them or downhill away from them will only result in them crashing into you. The only thing to do is to move either left or right away from their path. They will tumble past you and come to rest eventually at the bottom of the hill. So it is with MO’s. They obey certain very simple rules, which have, we repeat, nothing to do with man-made laws. Let them go. We cannot emphasize this too much.
If you are following an MO and it keeps changing its speed, keep your distance. Possibly it is looking for some egress from its current trajectory. If it signals to turn right, do not assume anything. It is just as likely to turn left. If it begins to pull over, do not begin to think it is parking. It may suddenly jerk forward again, without any warning. If it signals to turn left and moves way over to the right shoulder, then stops for no obvious reason, do not confront it. It will only get angry and react, involving you in a stupid accident in which you will be at fault. Patience is a virtue: use it when dealing with MO’s.
Remember: no intelligence rides with these constructs. You cannot reason with them.
Never get angry at an MO. This is a total waste of time and dangerous. Think of them as wild animals and yourself on a touring safari. Remember that MO’s are an absolute necessary part of the whole “road show” system. You cannot destroy them, however much you think they deserve it. The System depends heavily on their willingness to throw money away along the road. That money is sometimes used in the maintenance of your friend, the road. Killing an MO is not only illegal, it would be stupid. Allow them to go ahead of you. The police enjoy chasing them and are likely to be preoccupied ticketing them while you blissfully pass on by. Businesses thrive because of them, keeping some of your costs lower. Politicians love them (hence why they are protected) because anytime they want to win an election, they put up signs that say things like, “Your tax dollars at work” and pretend to “fix” a piece of road. The human-like objects inside the MO’s are entitled to vote and some of them will respond to the gimmick and elect that “road fixer” politician.
Sorry students, we did not mean to get political. All we wanted to do was equip you to survive your first year as a BC certified professional driver.
Good luck and happy roads to you!