Are our highways safe? Blunt answers from the stars of HEAVY RESCUE: 401

— January 8, 2019

By BILL HARRIS Special to BellMedia PR When you’re sick, you go to a doctor. When you’re hungry, you go to a restaurant. If your pipes are leaking, you call a plumber. There’s something to be said for expertise. So when two of the stars of the original Canadian reality series HEAVY RESCUE: 401, which chronicles crazy crashes and relentless recoveries along Ontario’s 400-series highways, (Season 3 premieres tonight at 10 p.m. ET on Discovery) were in Toronto for a media junket, we asked some very pointed questions about the safety of our busiest roads. Here’s what Gary and Collin Vandenheuvel, the father-son duo from Preferred Towing in Sarnia, Ont., had to say: Q: How did you get to Toronto from Sarnia? Did you drive? And if so, what did you drive? Gary: “Last night we just brought up my pickup truck. The big rigs are a little tough to negotiate through the city sometimes.” Q: Having seen what you’ve seen, what’s the one piece of advice you would give to ordinary drivers? Collin: “After doing this for six years now, I’ve seen quite a few things. My main thing is, just slow down for the driving conditions. Move over for stopped emergency vehicles, including tow-trucks. A rule of thumb, I just slow down and move over for ANY vehicle parked on the side of the road, whether it’s police cruisers, or even just a pedestrian on the side of the road, giving people that little bit of extra room to work with.” Q: I suppose you often ask yourselves, how many problems would be solved if people would just slow down? Collin: “It’s amazing how many people could resolve ALL of their issues if they could just slow down.” Q: I think that actually applies to many aspects of life, right? Gary: “The things I’ve seen over the years and the challenges that we face out there, you can see how quickly just a normal day for somebody can suddenly turn their whole world around, just because they were in a hurry. Things happen quickly out there, and generally just driving down a 400-series highway, you’re doing 100, 120, or faster, and it just takes that one instant for something to happen. So keep that in mind, slow down, you don’t need to be in a rush all the time. When something does happen, and you’re going a bit too fast, it’s just that much further that it takes to stop.” Q: I’ll ask bluntly, do you feel safe on our highways? Gary: “Yeah, I certainly feel safe, but I drive to the conditions that we’re under. And I also understand the weight differences between a commercial motor vehicle, a tractor-trailer, versus your normal standard everyday car that most people drive. There’s just a huge difference in weight, and when it comes to an accident, mass is always going to win, no matter what.” Q: So, the best way to avoid any of these problems is just to ease your foot off the gas. How much less carnage would you have to deal with if people could do that? 50%, 60%, or more? Collin: “This is what we do and we take it on, but it’s not always nice. It’s the job that we’re never going to see and never know about that is the victory, right?” That’s the philosophical road to rescue right there! @billharris_tv
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