SPRINGHILL – Empathy: you can either walk a mile in someone’s shoes to get it or drive a few clicks down the road together.

Christopher Gooding
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Fundy Driving School owner Stewart Fraser (right, exiting fire truck) is giving new drivers a first-hand account of what larger vehicles face when sharing the road with smaller vehicles by arranging ride-alongs for the class.

Students with Fundy Driving School did just that over March break while receiving driver education here in Springhill. Instead of being told of the challenges large truck drivers face when on the road, students were given the opportunity to ride along in transport trucks and fire trucks, witnessing first hand the challenges these drivers face and giving the students some insight and considerations when they share the road.

“It let’s the kinds know what these drivers are going through,” Fundy Driving School owner Stewart Fraser said. “The blind spots, the time it takes to break or turn. Our objective is to teach them respect for these guys. The stories they could tell of near misses, or worse.”

The ride along is not part of the regular driver education curriculum in Nova Scotia, Fraser said, but being fortunate enough to have willing volunteers to participate, he says he hopes someday it will be. For passenger vehicle drivers, it’s obvious when they are sharing the road with a larger vehicle, but for the truck drivers it’s not always obvious the smaller car has crept into its blind spot. The consequences of a mistake, however, can be fatal.

“The truck drivers have a hard job,” driving instructor Dale Ross said. “When people don’t pay attention it’s going to create a situation. A truck going 100 km and hour isn’t going to slowdown as fast when a car going 50 km an hour pulls out in front of it. They’re going to be weaving and dodging.”

The long term goal of the extracurricular experience, Ross said, is to make new drivers aware of how they fit into the bigger picture of sharing the road and driving safe.

“We try to help as much as we can.”

Organizations: Fundy Driving School

Geographic location: SPRINGHILL, Nova Scotia

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