Don’t worry–that’s the correct spelling for this story.
Today, I was driving eastbound on Highway 1 in Manitoba (which is mostly two-lanes-east-two-lanes-west-with-a-median-in-the-middle), and continued eastbound when the road crossed into northern Ontario. In Ontario, the road is known as Highway 17, and is just two lanes of blacktop. There is the occasional passing lane, but for the most part, the only thing keeping eastbound traffic from the westbound traffic is a double yellow line. The speed limit is only 90 km/h (55 mph). It is a twisty, turny, up-and-down road blasted through granite.
Traffic came to a standstill at a point west of Kenora. There was no oncoming traffic, so I thought there might be construction ahead, with one lane operating and a couple of flaggers controlling traffic. I was half right; traffic was down to one lane, but it was due to a bad accident between a motorcycle and a pickup truck. Police were on the scene getting traffic through the only open lane, but the accident looked fairly recent, and no other emergency personnel were there.
But we got going again, only to stop again a few miles down the road. This wait was longer than the first, and when I heard the semi ahead of me put on his parking brake and turn his engine off, I did the same. People started getting out of their cars, talking to each other, wondering what was going on. The trucker, realizing he was going nowhere, let his dog out of the truck for a run. A few distressed-looking people disappeared into the woods, only to reappear a few moments later, zipping up their pants and smiling.
Oddly, there was no oncoming traffic–or perhaps not oddly, as fire trucks and other emergency personnel came racing by. As it would turn out, police had to stop traffic in both directions so the emergency responders could use one lane of the road.
We got going again; and as often happens after a lane of traffic has been stopped, it travelled in a clump. My clump had a few semis in it, some private cars, and a camper being towed by a pickup at the lead. I was near the rear of the clump; ahead of me was a semi, then me, then behind me was a tandem semi carrying a load of two-by-fours. The camper was having trouble negotiating the hills, so there was an impatient line of traffic (our clump) behind him. Given the delays we had encountered due to the accident, people just wanted to get going; but they couldn’t get past the camper, so they were bunched up.
Not all of us, though–I left about 200 yards between the semi ahead and my car. The semi behind me left about 200 yards between his truck and my car. Everybody else was pretty bunched up though.
Suddenly, the brake lights on the semi ahead went on. Then clouds of smoke started rising from his trailer tires. I realized he was stopping in a hurry, so I hit my brakes calmly–remember, I had plenty of room in which to stop. Then I realized that I was being followed by a fully-loaded tandem semi, and glanced in my mirror. Clouds of smoke were rising from his tires too, and he was coming on fast. Still moving, I pulled onto the shoulder, so as not to be squashed between two semis. Good thing too, because the semi behind needed all the room I could give him to come to a safe stop. The air reeked of burning rubber.
It turned out the the car in front of the semi ahead of me, apparently unaware that a semi requires a lot more room to stop than a car, decided to make a left turn and had to come to a stop in order to yield to oncoming traffic. This was why the semi ahead of me locked his brakes, I hit mine, and the semi behind locked his. There was no damage to anybody, and we were soon on our way again.
But gosh! If neither the semi ahead, the semi behind, or myself, were alert; or if we had been in any closer, things might have been very different. I had a very lucky break today.
Don’t tailgate, folks!