We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

Oh, the things you’ll see on the road

By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, February 17 2017

Drivers must often trip a sensor in the road to activate traffic signals at intersections. Those who fail to do so can create trouble for other drivers, Steve Wallace writes.


Driving instructors and their students are always on the lookout for hazards of all sorts.

Here are some of the less-predictable ones encountered over the past few decades.

Most parallel-parking lessons take place in residential areas, so as not to inconvenience commuter traffic on busy roads.

Imagine my surprise and that of my student driver, when we came upon a baby in diapers sitting in the middle of the neighbourhood road.
A mom had left the back door ajar, and you can easily guess the result. She was mortified to have her child returned in the arms of a stranger.

It was a tearful reunion by mom and child.

There are times when a driver does not move far enough ahead to activate the sensors at a signalized intersection.

On one of these occasions, I watched someone get out of their vehicle and tap on the window of the first car at the intersection, which was ill-positioned at the red light.

The traffic light was not going to change to green until the sensor was tripped.
Instead of moving up to activate the sensor, the offending driver locked the doors of his vehicle and stayed put.

Maybe he thought it was a carjacking.
The problem was solved by the frustrated window-tapper using the pedestrian-controlled button to prompt a traffic signal change, and quickly returning to his vehicle, much to everyone’s relief.

Most driving instructors will lock the vehicle doors while instruction is being given.

This is done to lessen the likelihood of the doors opening in a crash situation and as a security measure.

I learned this lesson the hard way.
A person being chased by a group of very angry people actually jumped into my vehicle during a lesson.

We had stopped at the traffic light and it had just turned green, so we proceeded to the next intersection.

I asked the teen to explain, but she jumped out of the car as quickly as she had appeared.

Your guess is as good as mine!

The student driver took it all in stride.
He asked if every lesson was going to be this exciting.
I responded by saying there was no such guarantee, and locked the doors.

Communicating with other drivers is often a greater challenge than first anticipated.
Take for example the time we tried, during a driving lesson, to warn another driver of their seatbelt hanging out the bottom of the driver door.

We pulled alongside the car and tooted the horn to get the driver’s attention.

No response.

At the next traffic light we managed to stop behind the driver, and hit the horn, while pointing to the seatbelt we held in our outstretched arms.

No response again.
By some fluke we managed to get ahead of the driver and make several references to the dangling seatbelt, to no avail.

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

There are times when a simple flash of the high beams will alert other drivers to turn on their headlights.

It is particularly effective when the tail lights are not illuminated.

In one case, we noticed a vehicle in front with a very low tire.
A simple horn honk and flash of the lights, accompanied by pointing to the tire, resulted in a friendly wave and acknowledgment by the thankful driver ahead.

There are all sorts of instances where a driver will leave an object on the roof of the vehicle.
Briefcases, coffee cups, clothing and groceries are just a few of the items we see atop moving motor vehicles.

Alerting others is all in a day’s work. Steve Wallace is the owner of Joan Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island.




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