Once more into the reader mailbag
By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, June 2nd 2017
The safe following distance for cars was for many years measured by vehicle lengths, but no more.
The vehicle length of a Smart car is radically different from a limousine, and makes the old measurement of following distance no longer applicable.
The two-second rule now applies.
Picking a road sign at the side of the road or a road line marking as a starting point will demonstrate a safe following distance at the count of two seconds, or perhaps three seconds in bad weather or if following a small car or motorcycle.
The most common crash is the rear-ender. This is largely due to the misjudging of a safe stopping distance.
Several readers have asked for a review of the square-proportion relationship of braking distance, namely that it takes 2×2=4 times as far to stop at double the speed and 3×3=9 times as far to stop at triple the speed, and so on.
Drivers are also encouraged to see the tires of the vehicle ahead when stopped in traffic.
It is no longer advisable to leave an enormous vehicle length when waiting for the traffic light to change at an intersection.
A retired policeman wanted me to mention this simple practice for stopping behind other vehicles, since it allows for a greater number to get through an intersection, particularly on the left-turn advance flashing green light.
Another reader wanted to remind drivers that pulling over and stopping for emergency vehicles is the law in our province.
Also related is a complaint from a reader concerning the jerks using the opportunity to illegally pass those drivers who have pulled over and are properly stopped for emergency-vehicle traffic.
There are often several emergency vehicles travelling in tandem.
Always look and pay attention to multiple sirens.
Think of them rushing to save one of your family members, rather than as an inconvenience in your daily routine.
When passing an emergency or working vehicle stopped at the side of the road, and the posted speed is 80 kilometres per hour or more, your speed must be no more than 70 km/h.
If the posted speed is below 80 km/h, drivers must not exceed 40 km/h.
There also must be a full lane left clear closest to the emergency vehicle or vehicles on a multi-lane, same direction roadway.
The vehicles to watch for in these situations are police, fire, ambulance, tow trucks, utility, commercial and cable company vans and virtually any other vehicle with warning lights atop the vehicle flashing at the side of the road.
The authorities have done a less-than-proper job of informing the public of this new rule.
Ted is amazed at how many drivers look right first and then look to their left at an intersection before crossing.
Since traffic will be coming from the left in close proximity to the driver wishing to cross the intersection, it seems that looking left first would be the best self-preservation action.
Why do many people look right first? Most people are right-handed and do it as a force of habit.
Others have good reason to first check for the close-proximity pedestrians on the right. The old left-right-left sequence is a good general rule.
A better and more advanced viewing technique is to look to the difficult side, visibility wise, and then to the more open side and back to the difficult-to-see direction once more.
This tough-easy-tough behaviour at intersections insures the last place a driver looks is the most threatening.
Another reader asked when the bicycle helmet legislation will be enforced with the same vigour as the seatbelt legislation.
My personal preference is to equally enforce all legislation or get rid of it.