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10 commandments for better driving

Talking on a cellphone while driving is high on Steve Wallace's list of no-nos  and distracted driving is now the leading cause of vehicle crashes.  Photograph by: ADRIAN LAM, Times Colonist

Talking on a cellphone while driving is high on Steve Wallace’s list of no-nos and distracted driving is now the leading cause of vehicle crashes. Photograph by: ADRIAN LAM, Times Colonist

By Steve Wallace, Times Colonist, July 9th 2013

The 10 Commandments of Driving:

1. Thou shalt not drive without a licence. What if I told you that one in 50 vehicles you met on the roads of our province was being driven by someone who did not have a valid driver’s licence or had stolen it. That was a real statistic for the Lower Mainland of B.C. about five years ago. Bait-car programs, anti-theft technology and public-awareness programs had reduced that number when I last checked with authorities. It’s a scary fact of life, however, that many drivers do not have a valid driver’s licence.

2. Thou shalt not drink and drive. We drivers and passengers are at the greatest risk of being killed or maimed by an impaired driver. It’s about time the federal government got serious about this curse of a crime. Provinces like B.C. have the toughest laws in this regard, but still lack federal support. Drinking and driving is a criminal offence.

3. Thou shalt not speed excessively. Police issue more tickets for speeding than for all other infractions combined. They are mindful of the fact that with each speeder interrupted, police attendance at a horrific, devastating death scene may have been prevented.

4. Thou shalt not tailgate. The most common roadway collision is when a vehicle gets hit from behind. Most drivers don’t have a clue how long it takes to stop in an emergency, since they have never practised the manoeuvre. Drivers need at least two seconds of following distance — three seconds when mixing with motorcycles, large trucks and small cars.

5. Thou shalt not drive distracted. Cellphones can be a godsend or a curse. They are a great tool when it comes to security and emergency communication and a curse when misused. In fact, distracted driving is now the leading cause of crashes and poised to overtake impaired driving as the greatest cause of fatal crashes, if statisticians can be believed.

6. Thou shalt yield and merge angelically. Drivers are required to yield the right-of-way and merge properly. The most confusing intersections seem to be the most simple, such as the four-way stop. It’s a first-come first-served situation unless more than one vehicle arrives at the same time.If so, the driver on the right has the right-of-way. Merging is a bilateral exercise. Drivers on the freeway must allow entry to those merging.

7. Thou shalt park politely. Always try to leave ample space for other drivers when parking, be it parallel, angle, stall, mall or parkade. The door damage you avoid may be your own. Visibility of entry and thoughtful exit planning are important as well. Personal security is a consideration. Choose well-lit or open areas.

8. Thou shalt not run a red light. The second most deadly location for travellers is an intersection (the highway head-on being the first). Always be on the lookout for drivers speeding to make it through, despite a clearly visible solid red traffic light. Governments everywhere should be much more judicious in this matter. It remains only a two-penalty-point violation for running a red light and a three-point violation for failing to stop completely at a stop sign. Surely the red-light infraction deserves greater penalty emphasis.

9. Thou shalt wear a seatbelt. Seatbelts save lives. Insurance awards have been significantly reduced when it’s proven that the absence of a seatbelt caused greater injury in a crash.

10. Honour thy father and mother. Kids, fill the car up with gas after use!

Steve Wallace is the owner of Joan Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island and in the Central Interior of B.C. He is the former Western Canadian vice-president of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas and a registered B.C. teacher.





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