Letter: Sandspit speeder had no cause to complain about big rig

I am a 60-year-young professional truck driver. I have been driving big-rig trucks for 40-plus years now. I have never been in a big-rig accident or even involved in one. I have driven all sorts of heavy highway trucks and backroad trucks with trailers, ranging from 53-foot Vans to Super B flat-deck trailers, dump trucks, log trucks, low-bed trailers, tankers, and etc. I have hauled almost everything imaginable, from groceries fresh and frozen to lumber, steel, piping of all kinds, fuel, water, gravel, logs, even livestock. And I have driven through storms, snow, ice, rain, wind, heat, and forest fires, going in and around big cities and small towns and communities, all through B.C. and western Canada and parts of the U.S.A.

My Class 1 B.C. driver’s licence with air brake endorsement is virtually unblemished. I have had it since 1977 and made my living and career from it. I drive respectfully — courteous and safe toward other road traffic and people on all roads. I obey all driving laws.

I have prepared and trained at least 12 people on and off the islands in my driving career, and to my knowledge no one has had a big-rig accident. I have had safety courses and certificates for dangerous goods, WHIMIS, load tie-down courses, first aid, machine operating, and awards throughout my career. For about 10 years I have been employed by the same employer, which I have great respect for because of the fact that the number-one priority is SAFETY for them and if there are any issues of concern they are and fixed not only for my protection but also for public protection. By law, I must make a safety pre-trip inspection on any truck and trailer before it is moved.

Sometimes, when driving these trucks with an over-wide heavy load, 72 feet long, you need a little bit more room on a public or private road and you just have to take a bit more space and road, doing so at a slow safe speed and maneuvering to be able to back into tight small side roads or alleys or docks. I am sorry and apologize in advance for taking up three to five minutes of your time, maybe 15 at tops. It’s no longer than standing in line for a cheeseburger or cup of coffee at a McDonald’s.

I got a call from the local RCMP one night recently, saying that they received a complaint about an unsafe, out-of-control truck driver on the Beach Road highway on Moresby island around 4 p.m. The complaint was phoned in with pictures and all… and when I was talking to police, I explained the safety that was there and the situation.

I was at a complete stand-still with air brakes fully on, safety lights and flashers, wide-load flashers all on, a spotter truck with its lights and flashers on, and signs. My load was chained down and locked. The police saw that and realized that it was all safe and of no concern.

Then the same person who put the complaint in roars by me, car horn blasting, taking pictures and giving me the number-one truck driver gesture with their middle finger! Who’s the unsafe driver now? Who is the most likely person to cause an accident? This is the same person I have personally seen come driving by my beachfront residence at an excessive speed far beyond the speed limit, where in the summer little animals, adults and children cross to get to beach. Without even blinking an eye about it, you are calling me unsafe. Shame on people like that.

I love my community that my spouse and I live in, and 99 percent of the people here. We’ve met great friends that we love like family. Not just our community, all of them. I drive with care, responsible and safe through all these communities. That one per cent who don’t know what they are saying or talking about makes it hard to like and understand. I do not wake up in the morning going to my driving job that I love to do looking for an accident. No one is perfect, and we all know an accident can happen at anytime — that’s why they are called accidents. Try to prevent them.

Remember I also have a camera on my phone, so the next time you are roaring past my house because you’re late for the ferry or whatever, I will record and report…

Thank you for reading,

On behalf of all safe drivers,

Gerry Leochko

Sandspit

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