Clint Lenzi is in it for the Long-Haul literally and figuratively. A lifetime local and owner/operator of Sure-Haul Transportation, Lenzi has been riding the dangerous Highways for years and as seen the same behavior of smaller vehicles risking their lives time and time again.
“The fictional yellow line that you can only see 8-months out of the year…” was the first thing Lenzi said when the interview began.
The dangerous section of highway that is on every Revelstokians mind is the section that was built sometime in the mid ‘60s when the population was drastically smaller in numbers and the highway was not built with future inflation in mind. Now, we face huge numbers passing through the very same thin section, including far bigger recreational vehicles and transport trucks going to and from their respective destinations. With an increase in drivers, there has been an increase in accidents and ultimately, deaths.
“The government spends an amazing amount of money trying to save lives, and yet somehow it is acceptable for us to drive on this antiquated highway system and continue to lose lives every year.”
Transport trucks are taking risks on a daily basis because of slower moving vehicles on the road. Stated by Lenzi, smaller vehicles will pass on a double solid lines due to frustration of being stuck behind a 102-thousand pound transport truck, which puts both drivers in danger.
“It boils down to a real me type attitude. It’s the road system itself that breeds this impatience. I’ve been behind the wheel myself when I’ve got a heavy load, and I have over taken a Ma’n Pa from Saskatchewan in their motor-home who are in the valley bottom doing 80 (km) and looking at the mountains, and I start up a huge adverse, I know as soon as we get to the top I am going to have to overtake them again.”
With the leisurely drivers on the highway, transport trucks can become frustrated, forcing them to take risks they should think otherwise about, or straddle the centre line to keep a vehicle behind them from taking a blind risk. An ideal situation is turning that outdated section of highway into a four-lane, however, the cost of that would be substantial and the federal government has not indicated that they will be rebuilding it anytime in the near future.
“The biggest thing is people will take huge chances. They will dart out in front of you because they don’t want to be behind you, or a faction of people who don’t want a transport truck to pass them, so you catch them on a passing lane, and they do not like being overtaken by a semi, so at all costs they try and stay ahead of you….we call it the Mala-Coq or the Indy-500 at Malakwa– you’re stuck behind the 60 or 70 (km) traffic, then you get to that section of four-lane, doing 120(km) and you can’t keep up to the drivers that were holding you up.”
Transport truck driving is big business. The economy is reliant on goods being taken to and from all over Canada, and the demand on truck drivers to make their schedule can be stressful and at times, overwhelming.
“Trucking is a game of minutes. As soon as you pull over for a minute, you lost 20. If you are stuck behind someone driving 60 (km), you can see the minutes wasting away.”
The driving world has changed drastically and in today’s hectic world of driving transport trucks, there are drivers that are pin to pin. They will have their own truck, they pick up pre-loaded tractors that have a variety of items, whether it makes sense or not. “It could be Sears catalogues on the back and La Senza on the front. They have no weight on their drives for traction, highway trucks have automatic transmission that don’t work in winter conditions–very little feel and it shifts when it wants too. It could shift into a lower gear on you, whether you want it or not.”
Lenzi explained to the Revelstoke Current that he has lost close to a dozen friends on this highway system. He feels that it is crucial to change and upgrade the highway system, as for right now he refers to our Trans-Canada Highway as a goats trail.
As far as Sure-Haul business goes, he prides himself on safe driving. With many of his employees driving off mountains hauling massive logs, these Sure-Haul drivers are extremely capable and are a higher quality of driver with very few accidents on company record.
“I joke and say they are the Wayne Gretzky’s of driving… It can’t be your first day, you can’t be learning, you have to have it all down.”
Lenzi feels that drivers in smaller vehicles take massive risks and have no true understanding of the consequences that could occur. All stemmed from impatience and ignorance to the stop time that a transport truck has in comparison to a regular motor vehicle.