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Tips on how to deal with a salt truck from a Toronto plow driver

For a country that defines its weather as six months of winter and six months of bad ice, it's obvious we still haven't figured out the basics of winter driving.

So many are so panicked by the sight of ice and snow that they instantly lose all control of their senses – and possibly their bodily functions.

But, as much as snow and ice can turn otherwise competent human beings into drooling idiots, they pale in comparison with what happens when a snow plow or salting truck appears.

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For a hint of what kind of wild-eyed madness ensues, Globe Drive spoke with a man who has been salting and plowing roads in Toronto for four winters.

In that time, Dave Moran has seen it all.

When he starts rolling his rig down two-lane suburban streets he gets two reactions. The first is panic as drivers instantly turn onto another street or pull into a driveway – any driveway – to avoid getting hit with rock salt. The other is to challenge him.

"Since I'm usually out at 2 or 3 a.m., the ideal path for me is the middle of the road," he says. "So when I see someone coming at me, I'll pull into the right lane. I've seen people then move into the same lane, like they're playing chicken with me.

"I don't know if they've had too much to drink, or what."

More likely, it's snow madness.

But challenging a truck carrying 14 tonnes of salt isn't the end of the lunacy. Moran has seen people try to pass him on two-lane suburban roads while fish-tailing through the snow, which is like running into a burning building ahead of firefighters to save your stamp collection.

He recently witnessed a driver make a right turn in front of him – while Moran was making a right turn.

"People are in such a hurry, they just don't think," he says. And sometimes when they're not in a hurry.

It's not like Moran and company need more stress. In addition to dealing with unthinking fools at the wheel, Moran once came within a few feet of running over an inebriated man who had passed out in a snowbank.

"I still have nightmares about that," he says.

So spare a little sympathy for those clearing our roads and, in order to save them from future nightmares, follow a few of Moran's suggestions:

Get the whole picture. "Too many people look only 15 feet ahead, so they're suddenly surprised to see a salt truck in front of them, and then they do really dumb things," he says.

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Don't throw the snow from your driveway on to the road. "That drives me crazy," he says. "You've just undone all my work."

Watch where you park. Moran has been forced to get out and bend mirrors back to squeeze between two cars parked across from each other.

So, basically, use your head and have a little patience. Not to be a Danny Downer, but let's hope that Moran and his fellow road crew aren't counting on that happening any time soon.

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