What you may or may not know about the vehicle you’re driving
Let’s face facts; road safety should be everyone’s concern. Even if you don’t drive, you still have to travel across roads as a pedestrian, cyclist or as a passenger in a vehicle. Being able to see the “big picture” is an advantage to all road users to help protect us all. The big picture is ensuring you understand that your actions – or lack thereof – can lead to fines or perhaps serious injuries to you or other road users. If you’re thinking this may pertain to you or someone you know, please continue reading.
I was recently invited to attend a commercial vehicle inspection blitz. Police officers guided commercial vehicles into an inspection area to ensure their vehicle was safe to operate, including the load they may be carrying and the trailer too. I attended a blitz a year ago and was a little disappointed with the outcome when it came to commercial drivers and their lack of detail on safety. This year seemed to be no different. But with this year, I was handed a few different things to think about.
Many of the drivers of these vehicles that were in violation were employees and not the vehicle owner. That lead me to consider this; do employers do enough training to help their employees who have to tow a trailer for their job? For example, if you decided to work for a landscaper and have to tow a trailer with lawn care equipment on it, were you informed about the maximum weight you can have on the trailer? What about ensuring you having a separate braking system for your trailer? In many jurisdictions, such as Ontario, you may need a different license class to operate a vehicle and trailers. That really depends on the weight of the trailer you’re towing. Check with your local jurisdiction to determine if you have the proper license classification before you begin to drive such a vehicle. Did you know about any of this? What training did you receive, if any?
Having a heavy trailer without a separate braking system for it can lead to a loss of control for the driver. Think of it this way; if you’ve ever driven a vehicle alone and then switched to a heavier vehicle full of people and packages and then try to brake normally, you may have stopped much later than you expected. Add a few thousand pounds and you may not stop in time. Compare it to running quickly down a hill and at the bottom of the hill when you try to stop, having someone behind you that isn’t slowing down as much as you and they keep pushing you forward. That’s what your heavy trailer can do with your vehicle and that can cause a serious collision.
So now you know. Knowledge and education is the key to helping all drivers remain safe on the roads. Ensure you get the proper training for the safety of driving the vehicle and the trailer you’re towing. Know all of the rules to follow for your jurisdiction and also how to safely drive that vehicle. Whether you drive for your job or just to get to your job, it pays to fully understand all safety factors.
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