We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

Traffic would flow smoothly if only…

By Steve Wallace, Victoria Times Colonist January 7, 2011

Everyone has an opinion about the other guy’s driving habits.

Readers of this column were asked what laws they’d change to improve traffic safety if they were granted the title of King or Queen of the Roads.

By far, the top suggestion was increased enforcement of the tailgating law. This is not surprising, since the most common kind of accident is being hit from behind. The sheer number of responses shows the need for police to give a lot more attention to this dangerous and illegal action.

The second most common irritant for drivers was pedestrians who don’t make their intentions clear at crosswalks.

Both Peter M. and Chris Bolt think pedestrians should point forward with their arm and hand prior to crossing the street.

I tried this over the holiday weekend, and it has now become my New Year’s resolution. It worked like a charm. Someone actually accused me of being from Ontario. I would like all readers of this column to try it, and let’s see if it catches on.

Marj Eddles from Campbell River wants all pedestrians to cross at the same time, in any direction, while all traffic is halted at intersections. It works in other cities, why not here?

Emma B. thinks traffic circles work well in Holland and should be used more in Canada. They cost less to build and maintain, and move traffic better than our proliferation of unnecessarily lighted intersections. She was not alone in this suggestion. Bill Fosdick would like to see more overpasses than level, vehicle-stifling, polluting, stop-and-go intersections. (It was thought that federal minister of state Gary Lunn should give his head a shake before committing any more money to non-priority projects.)

He would also like to see everyone take the written driving test when renewing their driver’s licence every five years. Several readers suggested a practical driver’s test for every renewal.

Terry Laing wants all street lines to be painted with reflective paint. He suggested intermittent black and white markings, which would work in both summer and winter and particularly at night. He also wants all pedestrian crosswalks to be equipped with flashing digits, to give everyone an idea of how much time they have left to cross the street.

Geoff Burrage would have a review of all speed limits if he were the King of the Roads. He would mandate minimum speed limits on certain freeways and highways and suggested night-time speed limits. School zones would be in effect when children were most likely to be on the road; furthermore, the times of observance would be posted on the school zone signs.

Blair MacDonald would forbid anything hung from the rear view mirror that would impede vision.

Robert wants me to have a write-in question and answer section to this column. (Go ahead, I’m game.) Robert also thinks there should be a snitch line. Reports of polluting vehicles, dangerous drivers and other offences could be made much easier.

Trisha has an interesting perspective on driving in reverse.

Since it is difficult to see while backing, she believes it should be illegal to deliberately walk behind a driver who has already begun to back up.

John Laidlaw had a very good suggestion. As King of the Roads, he would make it mandatory that every driver in the province be personally informed of any changes to the Motor Vehicle Act. An inclusion in the yearly insurance renewal policy could easily be the best way to accomplish this notice. He wants to outlaw bright blue headlights as well.

Barbara Begg wants all drivers to light up at all times. She thinks that drivers who do not have their headlights on at all times are a hazard, now that the majority of vehicles light up automatically. I am sorry if your suggestion did not make the cut; maybe next time.

Steve Wallace is a member of the College of Teachers and the owner of Joan Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island and the Interior of B.C.

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