Highway horrors show drivers’ worst sides
By Steve Wallace, Times Colonist, August 27th 2013
I attended the recent B.C. Senior Games in Kamloops as a competitor. The drive there and back was an experience indeed.
The first strange occurrence happened in Surrey, when a driver in a narrow tractor used the bicycle lane to the exclusion of everyone else. Bicycle lanes should be sacred and used for bike travel only — apparently not in Surrey.
From the turn onto 200th Street at Highway 10 to the Trans-Canada, a journey of about 15 minutes, I watched a woman apply her makeup while being completely oblivious to vehicular traffic around her.
This activity has no place in a single-occupant moving vehicle. The latest statistics show distracted driving now accounts for slightly more deaths on our roads than drunk driving.
A driver in a top-down convertible in Langley changed lanes without a shoulder check and narrowly missed hitting an adjacent vehicle. The most common reason for a failure on a B.C. road test is the lack of shoulder checks.
There was a 15-minute delay on Highway 5 when an ambulance was needed to transport people who had been in a single vehicle crash, a result of a tire blowout. An older model ill-kept pile-of-junk vehicle had flipped over and was an obvious total loss. Further down the highway, a motorhome was disabled by the side of the road near Merritt, because of tire failure. It is estimated by transportation authorities that a third of all passenger vehicles have improperly inflated tires. Every driver should check tire pressure and wear at least once a month. Professional drivers do it every day of use.
My stay at Todd Mountain in Sunpeaks Village was great. There was a strange crosswalk situation that existed throughout the village. Zebra or intermittent broad and thick vertical lines marked every crosswalk in the town. All the crosswalks at stop-sign intersections were painted improperly. The horizontal and unbroken parallel crosswalk lines should accompany all stop sign crosswalks, not zebra style lines. There is no legal requirement to stop at zebra style crosswalks unless they are occupied. All drivers must stop at unbroken horizontally marked crosswalks, regardless of whether they are occupied or not. Visitors to this tiny perfect town are very likely to proceed through an intersection thinking that no stop is needed, especially if the stop sign is obscured.
I stopped for gas in Merritt. As I pulled away from the pumps, there was a guy filling his tank while talking on a cellphone. I had not noticed him because a double-trailer tanker truck was refuelling the tanks at the station. His driver door was wide open as he was using the pump.
It is a matter of time until some irresponsible idiot blows up a gas station. This is probably the reason the State of Oregon does not allow people to pump their own gas.
Travelling through Langley was an experience. A slow-moving vehicle was being passed by virtually every vehicle that approached it from behind. As I took my turn to pass, I notice the young girl behind the wheel obviously texting, all the while travelling at approximately 30 km/h in a 70 km/h zone. She would stop at traffic lights and wait for a horn toot before proceeding at the above speed, texting all the while. This went on for several blocks. It was the most obvious case of distracted driving I have ever witnessed. I tooted my horn as I pulled alongside her. She was so embarrassed that she took the first turn to get out of sight.
By the way, I won several gold medals in the swimming events.
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. Steve is a registered B.C. teacher and a graduate of the University of Manitoba.